Cubs manager David Ross was asked to respond to Andrew McCutchen’s comments after the Brewers designated hitter was hit in the hip/backside by Keegan Thompson, sparking Saturday’s spirited gathering between home plate and first base.
To sum it up, McCutchen would have rather been hit on the first pitch rather than on a 2-1 count.
“Nobody likes to get hit,” Ross said. “Whether you did it on the first pitch or the last pitch, I don’t know that it ever feels good or anybody’s happy with it.”
Once again, Ross denied that Thompson hit McCutchen intentionally.
“That kind of disarmed a lot of things when you go slider first pitch and get a strike,” Ross said. “That was my argument to the umpires. He had a strike on the guy. Everybody’s working on stuff. A two-seamer hit him in the [hip/backside]. If you’re going to get hit it’s better than square in the back like Willson [Contreras]or in the kneecap like Ian [Happ] or up and in like [Nick] Madrigal.”
Happ, however, was held out of Sunday’s starting lineup after getting dinged on the left kneecap Saturday by the Brewers’ Trevor Gott. Ross said Happ could’ve started but thought it made sense to rest him, especially with Monday’s off day.
The Cubs hope the break won’t disrupt Happ, who is hitting .327 since Sept. 18 of last season.
“When he’s locked in, he’s one of the better at-bats in the league,” Ross said. “He’ll walk, he’s got power. He hits to all fields. He’s a pretty spectacular player. He gets out of rhythm at times – as we all do – and I think he’s on a mission to be as consistent as possible this year.”
Yan Gomes started in place of Contrerasbehind the plate for Marcus Stroman’s Cubs debut.
“We’ve got 28 guys on the roster [and] we’ve got to get everybody some playing time,” Ross said. “If you guys want a story about personal catchers, there’s not one yet.”
Gomes gives the Cubs a luxury they didn’t have last year: a reliable second option behind Contreras. Gomes, 34, was signed to a two-year deal with a club option for 2024, and Sunday was his 883rd career game. Last season with the Nationals and Athletics, Gomes hit 14 home runs and limited opponents to a 69.4-percent stolen-base rate.
“We’ve got to get Yan some playing time, got to get some of these other guys in there, keep them fresh,” Ross said. “I always hated starting the season as a bench player and sitting for a week or two and you’ve just gotten consistent at-bats. I think their performance will be a little bit better if you can get everybody in the mix as soon as possible.”
Saturday’s 9-0 win marked the third time since 2011 that the Cubs have recorded a shutout using only homegrown pitchers. Justin Steele (5 innings), Thompson(2 2/3), Scott Effross (1/3) and big-league debutant Ethan Roberts (1) were all selected by the Cubs in the amateur draft.
Righty Alec Mills (low back strain) was scheduled to throw a sim game Sunday in Arizona. Lefty Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) was expected to play light catch.