Chicago Cubs

Cubs continue bullpen shifting because of injuries

Chicago Cubs pitcher Brandon Kintzler against the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Chicago Cubs pitcher Brandon Kintzler against the San Francisco Giants during a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

CHICAGO – Both Pedro Strop and Brandon Kintzler went out to throw before the Cubs’ game Tuesday night against the Oakland Athletics at Wrigley Field.

Each ended with different results. Kintzler wound up on the injured list with right pectoral inflammation, and Strop came off the IL to take Kintzler’s place.

It’s the latest in a series of injury-related bullpen moves for the Cubs. Kintzler worked the eighth inning of Monday night’s 6-5 victory, but as he came off the mound at the end of the inning, he was rubbing his chest.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said the team wants to be cautious with one of its most effective relievers.

“I don’t think there’s anything spectacularly wrong with him, but it’s there,” Maddon said of the inflammation. “Calm it down. The guy’s been a rock for us. We want him to continue for us. Why push it right now and find out we’re wrong? It’s just a conservative route. For me, this guy’s been fabulous all year. He’s been probably our most consistent relief pitcher all year. To push it right now, we just didn’t think was wise.”

Kintzler is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93. Closer Craig Kimbrel went on the IL Monday with right knee inflammation. The rest of the bullpen has to pick up the slack, but Maddon doesn’t want them trying to do too much. Maddon said he may have seen a touch of that with Kintzler.

“I thought, and I actually brought up to him, situations like this occur when you come out of your delivery and you try to do something more, which he kind of conceded he tried to do with [Matt] Olson last night, first pitch,” the manager said. “I didn’t even know that until I asked him that question.”

Strop had been on the IL retroactive to July 27 with tightness in his neck.

Zobrist to Myrtle Beach: Infielder-outfielder Ben Zobrist will continue his comeback at the Cubs’ Class A Myrtle Beach affiliate Thursday.

Zobrist played three games over the weekend for Class A South Bend. The 38-year-old is on the restricted list as he deals with family issues surrounding his divorce.

“I’m just hearing that everything’s progressing well right now and that he’s fine,” Maddon said.

Loving Schwarber’s approach: Left fielder Kyle Schwarber did not start Tuesday night’s game against Athletics lefty Brett Anderson, but Maddon has liked Schwarber’s recent approach at the plate.

“Loving it,” he said. “That left-center gap, wow, it’s open. We’ve talked about this how many times, the [opposite-field] gap from a hitter. When they’re doing that, they’re probably hitting with their optimal swing at that point, and he is. Real handsy. He’s hitting with a lot of confidence right now, too.”

Schwarber entered the night 5 for 8 on the homestand with a double, a homer and four walks. If he keeps going to the opposite field, that may force teams to stop shifting so heavily against him.

“They’re going to have to come out of it, brother,” Maddon said. “If he’s going to start shooting balls on that other side, they’ve got to be aware of that.”

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