Cubs notebook: Return of Villar, Suzuki will require some roster decisions

Infielder Jonathan Villar is expected to rejoin the Cubs on Tuesday, and outfielder Seiya Suzuki could follow shortly.

But making room for the twosome on the active roster presents a few intriguing scenarios.

Villar’s switch-hitting ability and infield versatility could pinch a current player as well as dent the Cubs’ wallet.

Four-time Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons was relegated to playing second base until Nick Madrigal returned last week, reducing Simmons’ role to backing up Nico Hoerner at short.

Simmons, 32, signed a one-year, $4 million contract but he didn’t make his Cubs debut until May 15 because of right shoulder soreness.

Infielder David Bote also is eligible to return Tuesday, but his status is murky. Bote, 29, is batting .178 in 45 at-bats while on a minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa. Bote can play second and third base, and he is guaranteed about $11 million through 2024.

Third baseman Patrick Wisdom’s ability to play first base could create playing time for Villar at third as well as put Alfonso Rivas’ status in question. Rivas has minor league options and is 9 for his last 72, including a 1-for-14 performance on the recent homestand.

Suzuki’s status won’t be clarified until he performs a series of baseball drills prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Orioles. Christopher Morel’s increased playing time in center field has relegated Rafael Ortega to backup and designated hitter duty. Jason Heyward hit an RBI single Sunday but is batting .211 with $36 million in salary owed him through 2023.

Villar is returning after undergoing mouth surgery following an accident during a workout. Suzuki has performed limited work since suffering a left ring finger sprain on a slide at second base on May 26.

Minor leaguers honored

Class-A South Bend outfielder Owen Caissie and Class-A Myrtle Beach pitcher Luis Devers were named the organization’s player and pitcher of the month for May, respectively.

Caissie, 19, who was acquired from the Padres in December of 2020 as part of the Yu Darvish trade, batted .313 with six doubles, four home runs, 26 RBIs and a .910 OPS in 23 games.

Devers, 22, was 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings. Devers held opponents to a .176 batting average in five starts and posted an 0.90 WHIP. He finished the month with a 15-inning scoreless streak.

Also, South Bend left-hander DJ Herz was named Midwest League pitcher of the week for the period ending Sunday. Herz struck out 12 while allowing one hit over five innings in a win at Dayton on June 1.

Herz has struck out 37 in 53 innings with a 1.45 ERA in 10 starts.

Menez sent down

Left-handed reliever Conner Menez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa. Menez made one appearance, pitching a scoreless inning against the Diamondbacks on May 13.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.