David DeJesus had a great start in the Cubs' 6-3 win over the Mets Friday night. He smacked a bases-clearing triple in the second inning, giving the team a 5-0 lead.
Little did DeJesus, or any of us, know at the time that this hit would be his last for a few weeks. In the next inning, DeJesus made an awkward turn chasing a fly ball by the Mets' Juan Lagares, smashed into the center-field wall, and sprained his right shoulder. "Sprain" is actually fortunate -- at first it appeared it might be a dislocation or separation, which could have kept him out for a significant period of time. As it is, he'll head to the disabled list -- at this writing, there's no word on who'll replace him on the 25-man roster -- and miss... well, it's not clear. It could be just the 15-day DL time, or more. He had X-rays Friday night; no broken bones were found, and he'll also have an MRI once the swelling goes down.
For DeJesus, maybe New York, his hometown, isn't the best place to play:
"My mom and dad came down," he said. "It's the third time I've been injured at a New York stadium field. I've had some bad luck here." DeJesus said he tore a ligament in his thumb on a Derek Jeter drive at Yankee Stadium in 2O1O, and also hurt his shoulder one year later on a Jorge Posada drive and missed a couple of months. "One of my best friends is here and he has been at all three," he said. "He's like 'I don't know if I'm coming any more to check you out.'"
It will be interesting to see how the Cubs approach replacing DeJesus. They could recall Brett Jackson and install him in center field in the interim and see how he can do. Jackson is not hitting well at Triple-A Iowa; overall, he's at .232/.313/.389 and still has last year's strikeout problem (64 in 190 at-bats). Over his last 10 games, Jackson is hitting .179/.256/.333 with 19 strikeouts in 39 at-bats. That... isn't good.
Or, they could give the job to Ryan Sweeney and see if he's any sort of either short- or long-term answer to the center-field issue. Sweeney is hitting .328/.388/.475 in a small-sample-size 61 at-bats and has played a good center field in the few games he's started there. If the Cubs do this, they could call up someone like Brian Bogusevic to be a backup -- although Bogusevic is not on the 40-man roster, which is currently full. Dave Sappelt could also be recalled; Sappelt is on the 40-man roster, though he did not hit well when he started the year in the major leagues, and he's hitting just .248/.305/.352 in 148 at-bats at Iowa.
There's also the matter of the impending return of Steve Clevenger, who was 3-for-3 Friday night in a Triple-A game that was suspended, and who overall is hitting .394/.444/.636 in 33 at-bats in his rehab assignment for Iowa. When Clevenger returns, a 40-man roster move will need to be made, as he is on the 60-day DL.
By the time the preview for Saturday afternoon's game posts at 10:30 a.m. CT, I hope to have information on how the Cubs intend to replace DDJ.
Regarding the rest of Friday night's win, it was encouraging to see Edwin Jackson put together a second straight solid start -- six innings, five hits, one run, seven strikeouts. 102 pitches is a little too many for six innings, but that's not uncommon for a Jackson start, and he's finally starting to look like the pitcher we thought we were getting. James Russell had an uncharacteristic bad outing, allowing two runs to the Mets, letting them get close to getting back in the game, but Carlos Marmol (surprise! He's actually been good four straight outings, during which he's struck out eight of the 13 batters he's faced) and Kevin Gregg shut down the Mets the rest of the way for the win, which also got the Cubs back out of last place in the N.L. Central, at least for a day.
Nate Schierholtz's first-inning home run was the other highlight of the win. Anthony Rizzo, dropped to fifth in the lineup, had three hits. Rizzo might wind up hitting fifth, and Schierholtz third, at times going forward.
The injury to DeJesus likely takes him off the trading block, as he might not be back until very close to the July 31 deadline, and even if he is back sooner, teams would want to make sure he's 100 percent healthy before dealing for him. In the meantime, it's a chance for either Jackson or Sweeney to show what he can do, and what the Cubs might do for a center fielder in 2014 and perhaps beyond.