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Column: Back to the future sequel begins for the rebuilding Chicago Cubs as they hold auditions to see who sticks around


Chicago Cubs fans were supposed to get their first glimpse of the post-Willson Contreras era Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Contreras received a big send-off July 26, receiving several standing ovations and hugs on what was widely assumed to be his final day at Wrigley as a Cub.

Of course that turned out to be a false assumption, one of many made by those of us trying to predict the decision-making of team President Jed Hoyer.

Last year most thought at least one of the “Big Three” — Javier Báez, Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo — would be retained. Hoyer dealt all three. And on Tuesday Hoyer opted to keep the soon to be free-agent after failing to get the kind of return he expected.

That sparked hope the Cubs could re-sign Contreras, though Hoyer said nothing that would indicate his intention to keep the veteran catcher.

Now Contreras will play out the string on a Cubs team that finally has conceded the obvious — that it’s going through a rebuild and looking at players through the lens of where they fit in 2023 and beyond. Christopher Morel, for instance, was inserted at the shortstop position Friday for the second time.

“We’ll move guys around, see what we’ve got,” manager David Ross said before a game against the Miami Marlins.

Ross admitted the Cubs would “think about how we’re going to win in the future, what those pieces look like, and get that picture painted or that puzzle piece put together as good as possible, see where the holes might be.” But once games start he is “going to manage the game to win the game.”

The Cubs entered Friday with a 41-63 record and a five-game losing streak. But they’ve seen good pitching the last two weeks, with a 2.63 ERA in their last 15 games, lowest in the majors in that span.

It’s no surprise the Cubs would be at this juncture in August, despite repeated efforts by Hoyer to avoid having the “rebuild” label attached to this club. When Hoyer held a media teleconference after the trade deadline passed, a Marquee Sports Network reporter apologized to Hoyer for calling it a rebuild.

“Everyone is going to pay you for saying that,” Hoyer joked.

While they still don’t utter the word, the Cubs’ actions speak for themself.

So with development the focus of the final two months, what is the future of outfielder Jason Heyward, who has one year remaining at $24.5 million? Heyward has been on the injured list with right knee inflammation since June 27.

“We’ll adjust that when he gets healthy,” Ross said.

There is no timetable for the return of Heyward or Kyle Hendricks, who has been out since July 6 with a right shoulder strain. Asked if there was a possibility Heyward and/or Hendricks wouldn’t return in 2022, Ross said: “I hope not, to be honest. I know these guys work really hard and they pride themselves on posting, being out there with the guys. …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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