CHICAGO – Like everybody else, the Cubs are keeping an eye on Hurricane Florence, which is bearing down on the East Coast.
The Cubs are scheduled to play a makeup game Thursday at Washington against the Nationals after Sunday’s game was rained out. The teams had to play a doubleheader Saturday to make up Friday’s rainout.
“It’s on the schedule,” team president Theo Epstein said Monday. “Obviously, the biggest story in the country right now is the hurricane, and we wish everyone the best. We’re just going to keep an eye on it. Common sense will prevail, I’m sure, depending on how things look in a couple days.”
This has not been an easy stretch for the Cubs. Because of an earlier rainout in Atlanta, they were forced to use an off-day Aug. 30 to make up that game, causing them to have 23 games scheduled in 23 days. Thursday is a scheduled off-day as well, but the Cubs may be forced to fly to Washington after Wednesday night’s game at Wrigley Field to play at 3 p.m. Thursday and then fly home for a 1:20 p.m. start Friday at Wrigley against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cubs would rather play the Nats on Oct. 1, the day after the regular season ends, but Epstein said that call belongs to MLB. Another possibility would be playing the game at a neutral site, but Epstein said talks haven’t progressed that far yet.
“Oh, our voices have certainly been heard, but we don’t have any control,” he said.
Smyly shut down: Left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly was hoping to pitch this month after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but Epstein said Monday that the Cubs were shutting him down for the season.
The Cubs signed Smyly to a two-year deal in December with an eye toward having him ready for 2019.
“He did a great job to get back, fought through a lot of obstacles,” Epstein said. “He pitched in a minor league game, pitched a clean inning, which was awesome for him. He wanted to keep pushing. He really wanted badly to help this team.
“Realistically, we kind of ran out of time. We ran out of minor league games. We want him to have a normal offseason. He’s been rehabbing for a long, long time. We want him to have the benefit of rest and a full winter and come back.”
Cautiously optimistic: Outfielder Jason Heyward took part in running drills Monday afternoon, and closer Brandon Morrow played catch.
The Cubs say they’re optimistic both will contribute before the season is over. Heyward has been on the disabled list since Aug. 31 with right hamstring tightness. Morrow has been out since July with right biceps inflammation. His return for the regular season may be in jeopardy simply because the Cubs are running out of time.
“I’ve been in Chicago, and today was the first day I ran outside,” Heyward said. “I’ve thrown outside some. I’ve been hitting off the tee. It’s good. It’s good stuff. Confidence is there. I just have to do the smart thing and build myself back up to running.”