MLB, Cubs still navigating COVID-19 challenges: ‘World we’re living in’

SAN DIEGO – A couple hours after the White Sox and Guardians’ game Wednesday was postponed due to multiple positive COVID-19 tests within the Guardians organization, the Cubs and Padres’ game had COVID-19 news of its own.

The Padres announced Wednesday afternoon that third base coach Matt Williams had entered COVID protocols.

The Cubs, of course, were missing pitchers Marcus Stroman and David Robertson in San Diego. Both had been placed on the IL earlier this week without an injury designation, which generally indicates a COVID-19 related move.

“We’ve come to a place where we understand this is the world we’re living in, and trying to keep everybody healthy and also get back to a normal sense of the world that we’re living in and what everybody else is doing,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “So, there’s things like that, that are going to pop up, and we’ll try to handle them and keep everybody safe.”

Just as local and federal guidelines and restrictions have relaxed with the advent of the COVID-19 vaccine and the progression of the pandemic, so have Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols.

Outbreaks have become less common, but as the White Sox and Guardians’ postponement reminded baseball, not eradicated.

Hoerner exits early

Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner left Wednesday’s game early with what the team initially called right ankle soreness after a collision in the first inning. He will be further evaluated.

Padres two-hole hitter Jurickson Profar hit a triple off the center field wall, and Hoerner and second base umpire Dan Iassogna appeared to be watching the long fly ball travel when they ran into each other in shallow right center field.

Ross and an athletic trainer checked on Hoerner after the play, and the shortstop stayed in for the rest of the inning and his next at-bat. Ildemaro Vargas replaced Hoerner in the field in the bottom of the second inning.

Suzuki out of the lineup

Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki was out of the lineup Wednesday for the second straight game. He left Monday’s game with right ankle soreness, trying to beat out a ground ball double play. He pinch hit in the ninth inning Tuesday and was available off the bench again on Wednesday.

“We’ve got an off day tomorrow, if we can just get h as much rest as possible,” Ross said. “Make sure we’re playing that safe.”

Newcomb to IL

The Cubs on Wednesday placed left-hander Sean Newcomb on the 15-day IL with a left ankle sprain. The move is retroactive to Sunday, when Newcomb hurt his ankle in the outfield during batting practice.

In a corresponding move, the Cubs recalled right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. from Triple-A.

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