Cubs’ successful May tempered by injuries, Williams being the latestJared Wyllyson May 30, 2021 at 11:30 pm

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
Kris Bryant, playing first base in place of the injured Anthony Rizzo, can’t corral a throw from third baseman Patrick Wisdom in the fourth inning Sunday. | Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Trevor Williams, who was supposed to start Monday against the Padres, is the latest Cub to be unavailable after he underwent an appendectomy Sunday morning.

The way things are going, David Ross and Marty Pevey might soon have to become co-managers of the Chicago/Iowa Cubs.

As the list of injured players grows, Ross’ daily report on their progress gets longer, and the number of healthy players he needs from Triple-A rises. Ross joked Sunday that he called Iowa manager Pevey and apologized for taking most of his team away from him.

Before Sunday’s game, the Cubs put David Bote on the 10-day IL with a dislocated left shoulder and selected Sergio Alcantara from Iowa. Trevor Williams, slated to start Monday’s game against the Padres, had an appendectomy Sunday morning and is out indefinitely.

But while the Cubs have had a very successful May, the specter hanging over their rise in the NL Central standings is the ongoing task of figuring out who is healthy enough to play.

“The main thing is just, you know, you feel for the guys,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Then trying to find guys with little bumps and bruises rest where it doesn’t turn into an IL stint and playing guys and balancing that with trying to win each and every day and night.”

Anthony Rizzo continues to work on getting back into the lineup, and his return would simplify things for Ross. But he has not made an appearance since May 25, so the question becomes how long to wait before adding Rizzo to the injured list.

“We’re really getting thin on players that we have to bring up, so I think our first preference would be to just let him continue to get better and hopefully not extend the ten days,” Ross said. “But if it’s something that needs to be done, we’ll definitely do it.”

Looking ahead to June

Beginning Monday, the Cubs host the Padres for three games, starting a June slate that will be a measuring stick for Ross and his team.

“It’s a tough schedule,” Ross said. “If you’re looking at run differential, the top three teams are in the West. It will be a nice test.”

Given how banged up his roster is, Ross said he’s not going to read too much into the wins and losses against the teams the Cubs will face next month. Going up against the Padres, Dodgers, and Giants will be a good barometer for his team’s overall strengths and weaknesses.

“It’ll be a good test to show us where we need to continue to grow, how we measure up, where they might try to take advantage of areas,” Ross said.

Kris Bryant’s flexibility an act of necessity

Bryant is putting together another MVP-caliber season, all while showcasing extra defensive flexibility.

He has always been able to bounce around the field, but with so many injured or day-to-day, Bryant has spent more time than usual away from his usual position at third base. And with Ross trying to keep his healthy guys in the lineup, there’s been no time to brush up on other positions.

“We don’t have the luxury right now of extra work,” Ross said. “We’re really trying to take care of bodies and time under duress, whether it’s on their legs or in the cage. I think he’s really relying on his baseball savvy and experience as he’s used in the past. Which is great — that’s obviously a luxury that we have.”

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