CHICAGO -- When the Cubs spent the final few hours leading up to last Friday’s Trade Deadline trading away some of their franchise icons, it was a clear signal that the club was shifting its focus toward the future.
For Friday’s Crosstown Classic opener against the White Sox, a potential piece of that future arrived.
The Cubs placed Jason Heyward on the 10-day injured list Friday morning with left index finger inflammation, an ailment manager David Ross said had been bothering Heyward “for a pretty good bit” and was then “re-aggravated” while the team was in Colorado. In a corresponding roster move, the Cubs recalled Greg Deichmann -- their No. 20 prospect per MLB Pipeline -- from Triple-A Iowa and inserted him directly into the starting lineup in right field.
When Deichmann took the field to begin the top of the first inning, he became the first of the Minor League prospects acquired during Deadline week to make his Cubs debut. He promptly got his first big league hit in the fourth off White Sox starter Lance Lynn, though the Cubs went on to drop the series opener, 8-6, in 10 innings.
“A quality at-bat playing right field today. I'm excited to get him out there, get my eyes on him for myself, but I've heard great things,” Ross said pregame. “It seems he's having a great year and a nice pickup for us, and just excited to see him in a Cubs uniform and get his feet wet a little bit. But a quality at-bat, seems to control the strike zone really well, uses all fields, but we'll see.”
Friday also marked Deichmann’s Major League debut, coming less than two weeks after he was traded from the A’s to the Cubs on July 26 in the deal that sent Andrew Chafin to Oakland. Though Deichmann hit just 4-for-20 in seven games with Iowa, he came to the organization slashing .300/.433/.452 with 21 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs in 2021 with Triple-A Las Vegas.
“When you put up consistent numbers and [are] able to do those quality things, that matters,” Ross said. "So the next step is, 'Can you do it at this level, and how consistent can you be here doing those things?' I think opportunity [No.] 1 is the first thing you need when you're having a good year, and you give yourself that opportunity by doing well at Triple-A.”
With Heyward’s IL stint forcing the Cubs' need for outfield help, and with the 26-year-old having sustained success a level below the big leagues, recalling Deichmann became the move for the Cubs -- a team that is very familiar with welcoming new faces this season.
Per Cubs historian Ed Hartig, Deichmann was the 57th player to be used by the Cubs in 2021, which set a franchise record for the most players used in a season. The previous record had been 56 in '13. Deichmann was also the 33rd player to make his Cubs debut this season.
“Debuts are always fun and exciting,” Ross said. “We've gotten a couple of them, a bunch of them this year, and we get another one today.”
“I've caught how good it is, I've watched how good it can be. I don't like seeing it on the other side, but I'm happy he's in a spot to continue to compete. I'll catch up with him at some point. It'll definitely be different to see him in that uniform, and hopefully he's not running out. It would be nice to keep him on the shelf for three days. I mean, I can hope for that, right?” -- Ross, on Craig Kimbrel returning to Wrigley Field in a White Sox uniform