Montgomery's return appears imminent

May 4th, 2019

CHICAGO -- The next step for is still under discussion, but the left-hander appears on the cusp of rejoining the Cubs' pitching staff.

In his latest Minor League rehab assignment, Montgomery logged 76 pitches over six innings for Triple-A Iowa in a win against Omaha on Friday. That marked the fourth rehab outing for Montgomery, who was placed on the 10-day injured list on April 6 with a left lat strain and began his Minor League stint April 17. The lefty has two weeks of rehab eligibility remaining, but manager Joe Maddon hinted Saturday that Montgomery may return soon.

"It sounds like he's checked all the boxes," Maddon said prior to Saturday's game against the Cardinals. "Again, it's always about the next day -- making sure everything's cool. And then we'll make our moves after that. It was very encouraging to hear what he did."

Montgomery allowed one run and one hit -- both in the opening frame -- over his six innings, and retired 18 of the final 20 batters he faced. Across his four rehab games, the 29-year-old lefty has gradually increased his pitch totals from 27 (April 17) to nearly 80.

Building up Montgomery's pitch count not only helps with arm strength, but has also given the Cubs a layer of depth behind their rotation. Montgomery and right-hander Tyler Chatwood serve as the top two options for the starting staff, while holding roles in the Major League bullpen.

"It really creates more depth. There's nothing wrong with creating depth," Maddon said. "For the player itself, sometimes it's uncomfortable: 'I want to be back. I want to be back.' But when you're able to back things up just a little bit, he's going to get his opportunities, and all the depth players will.

"But, if you don't have that, it's hard to sustain a good record for the entire season, just because, at some point, you're going to need those folks."

Cubs thinking oppo

First baseman has gone to the opposite field 29.5 percent of the time this season, a large spike over last season (20.2 percent) and his career rate (21.9). Maddon said Rizzo's approach is something the team has stressed as a whole for the lineup. The Cubs' 28.4 percent opposite-field rate was second-highest in the Majors entering Saturday.

"It's by design," Maddon said. "I think you do your best work when you're there, especially with velocity and the way pitchers are pitching today. You should always permit the speed of the ball to dictate where you're going to hit it. Meaning that, if you set up there originally -- gap to gap over to the [opposite] line -- you'll stay on the fastball better on the pitch away, and you'll react to the breaking ball better. You won't be pulling off of it so much.

"It's just the best method to employ, I believe. You're [thinking] pull gap to the other line, mentally, and [you] stay on the fastball first there and then, if you have to pull, pull the breaking ball, because you're a little bit quicker on it. That's it. That, to me, could be a cookie-cutter approach for anybody."


"I really don't understand why the green olive doesn't get more play on a pizza. I think it's the most underrated condiment regarding pizza. People put pineapple. How could you put pineapple versus a green olive on a pizza? I'm just saying, the pineapple is pretty popular. What I'm saying is that, the green olive? Way above average compared to the pineapple on a pizza." -- Maddon, on his favorite pizza combination (sausage, green olives and mushrooms) coming soon to the menu at Maddon's Post (opening May 14)