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‘He was the right decision’: Cubs lay out plan for Alexander Canario

CINCINNATI – Right-hander Shane Greene made his Cubs debut in the team’s 15-7 win against the Reds on Sunday. 

He entered in the ninth inning and needed just nine pitches to finish the game, allowing a leadoff single and recording a strikeout.

Outfielder Alexander Canario, the other player the Cubs called up Friday when rosters expanded to 28 players for September, did not appear in the weekend series. 

The Cubs made it clear as August wound down that there weren’t starting spots open for whichever position player prospect they called up on Sept. 1.

When asked Friday about weighing the consistent playing time Canario would get if he stayed in Triple-A, versus the impact he could have as a bat off the bench for the major-league team down the stretch, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer implied that Canario’s call-up was likely temporary. 

“He’ll get at-bats for sure the rest of the way,” he said. “He’s not going to be in a position where he’s not not playing for the entire month. But someone was going to have their everyday playing paused, right? And maybe that ends up being a lot of people at different stages of the month. But we did talk about it, and it was a consideration. But ultimately, he was the right decision.”

Canario, who came back from two surgeries this past offseason, posted a .987 OPS in Triple-A last month. But manager David Ross noted from the get-go that Canario wasn’t going to be the first player off the bench. 

“He’s probably on the back end of the depth chart,” Ross said.

Before the game began, Sunday looked like it was shaping up to be a spot for Canario’s debut. The Reds, with COVID-19 sweeping through their pitching staff, called up Carson Spiers from Double-A to start. If the Cubs could run up the score early, Ross could get the everyday players off their feet in late innings by bringing in the bench. 

Instead, the game remained close until the eighth inning, when the Cubs put together a seven-run rally.

Relief options

Three pitchers – Brandon Hughes (knee surgery), Nick Burdi (appendectomy) and Ben Brown (left lat/oblique injury) – were scheduled to appear for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on rehab assignment Sunday. 

The Cubs will be using their extra pitcher roster spot in September to cycle through bullpen options. Depending on how those rehabbing pitchers progress, they could provide depth later this month.

Brown, ranked the Cubs’ No. 5 prospect, was expected to be a September call-up before the Iowa Cubs put him on the IL a month ago. The Cubs see him as a future big-league starter. But they also believe that with his arsenal he could help them out of the bullpen. No matter the role, he first has to ramp up into game shape. 

This and that

  • Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman (fractured rib cartilage) is expected to throw a bullpen Monday at the Cubs’ Arizona complex.
  • Cubs corner infielder Jeimer Candelario hit his second home run in as many days. In his last eight games, he’s gone 3-for-25, but all three hits have been home runs. 
  • Cubs center fielder Mike Tauchman recorded the first four-hit game of his career. He also scored three runs and recorded three RBI.

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