Jason Heyward is having a poor year. One of the reasons for that is a knee injury that has had him on the shelf since June 24 — almost a week. Here’s the latest:
Jason Heyward’s right knee soreness is not getting better, Ross says. Sounds like it could require an IL stint.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 29, 2022
Ross on Heyward’s status/knee: “We’re going to have to take a hard look at that soon.” #Cubs
The Cubs have been playing essentially three players short since the Cardinals series began last Friday. Heyward played in that game, but not since. P.J. Higgins has sat on the bench for five straight games — not even a pinch-hitting appearance. And until he played the last couple of innings in Wednesday’s game, so did Andrelton Simmons, no other appearances since June 23.
The reason for this is a 40-man roster crunch. Every position player on the 40-man roster — there are 19 total — is either on the active roster, on the injured list, or optioned to the minor leagues. Miguel Amaya is on option, but he’s on the minor-league injured list and likely won’t play this year. The only other player who is currently on the 40-man and optioned to the minors is outfielder Alexander Canario, who has split this year between High-A South Bend and Double-A Tennessee, batting .238/.299/.508 with 17 home runs, but also 88 strikeouts in 256 at-bats. Canario, acquired along with Caleb Kilian from the Giants in the Kris Bryant deal last July, isn’t anywhere near MLB-ready.
So what to do with Heyward if he needs an IL stint? The quick answer is, “Activate Seiya Suzuki,” but Suzuki isn’t quite ready, either, and will start a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa tonight. Maybe Suzuki is ready by next week, but that still leaves Heyward on the active roster and unable to play for perhaps four more days. Perhaps Michael Hermosillo could be activated, but the latest info (from a week ago) doesn’t have him anywhere close to ready:
Cubs injury updates:— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) June 23, 2022
-Drew Smyly throwing another bullpen tomorrow. Marcus Stroman in the coming days.
-Seiya Suzuki building up his hitting progression in AZ, hitting in the cage.
-Michael Hermosillo running, throwing hitting and lifting. Expected to take live BP today.
Some of you might say, “DFA Andrelton Simmons,” but... that would leave TWO open spots on the active roster for the same reason. Simmons could be replaced by Dixon Machado, who’s at Iowa, but... that would still leave the Heyward issue.
So what should the Cubs do? They’re playing at least one man short with Heyward unavailable.