The Rundown: Addison Russell Goes Hitless in Debut, Castro Has Huge Night, Baez Expected Back Soon

Another day, another exciting comeback victory for the Cubs. No big deal.

It’s strange. Whenever the Cubs go down one or two runs this year, not only am I confident they can come back — I pretty much expect it.

Even last night after Jason Motte served up a meatball on a platter to the Pirates’ Jung Ho Kang, leading to a go-ahead three-run double in the seventh inning, I felt very strongly that the Cubs would come back and make it interesting.

And they did, eventually winning 9-8. These are not the Cubs I have come to know over the years.

In his first Major-League game, Addison Russell batted ninth and played second base. It wasn’t the prettiest of debuts (0-for-5 with three strikeouts), but as we saw with Kris Bryant, it’s only one game.

Hopefully some of the nerves will be gone going forward and he can settle down and do his thing.

To make room for Russell, Mike Olt was placed on the 60-day disabled list (to open up the 40-man roster spot) and Arismendy Alcantara was sent down to Triple-A Iowa.

The Olt news is discouraging. After being hit by a pitch a little over a week ago, it looked like he might be able to power through the injury. But that appears to not be the case.

Alcantara has really struggled to make contact with off-speed pitches this season. He went 2-for-26 to begin the year, although he did score five runs.

Based on comments made by Joe Maddon on his weekly appearance on 670 the Score, we may see Russell in the ninth spot for a while. And he won’t be taking the shortstop job away from Starlin Castro.

To say this infield of Anthony Rizzo, Russell, Castro and Bryant is young is an understatement. It’s likely we’ll see some growing pains along the way. But it should be a lot of fun watching them put it all together.

Castro is ‘no joke’

Shortstop Starlin Castro had a heck of a night yesterday. He went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and a home run. This included a big two-run single in the top of the ninth to tie the game.

Probably overshadowed by a lot of other great story lines for the Cubs, but Starlin Castro has been great so far this year. He’s hitting .352/.375/.481 with two home runs and 10 RBIs, and is playing some solid defense.

Castro is clearly focused this year. Yesterday he told Carrie Muskat that he doesn’t want to be a “joke” anymore.

It sounds like Joe Maddon is having a big effect on the young shortstop. Castro seems determined, and I”m really liking what I’m seeing so far this season.

Other notes

* After taking an extended leave of absence due to the death of his sister, Javier Baez is expected to join Triple-A Iowa shortly, writes Patrick Mooney. Baez was very close with his sister, who was born with spina bifida and died April 8, so the Cubs wanted to give him as much time as he needed. “I’ve heard that there’s rumblings of him coming back relatively soon,” Joe Maddon said before yesterday’s game. “The kid was crushed by the moment, man. And we all grieve in different manners.” I’m looking forward to having Baez back in the fold, and I’m really rooting for him to make a big impact with the Cubs this year.

* LHP Tsuyoshi Wada will make his second rehab start with Triple-A Iowa today, according to Tommy Birch. Wada, who is working his way back after battling some leg injuries this spring, could be a welcome addition to the Cubs’ bullpen considering how things have been playing out lately.


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