Notes: Contreras rests; Thompson called up
Catcher Willson Contreras was not in the starting lineup for the Cubs against the Reds at Great American Ball Park on Saturday after exiting Friday night’s contest with right thigh tightness. Manager David Ross said Contreras felt a little sore Saturday morning but said he could play if necessary. Ross said he plans to give Contreras some time to rest, though pinch-hitting in Saturday’s game remained a possibility.
“[We’ll] test him out as he gets loosened up and gets treatment and see where we’re at,” Ross said prior to Saturday’s game. “I think we got a little bit of good news. I think we’ll be fine. I think in an emergency situation, he could catch for us.”
Ross did not say Contreras would be back in the starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale, citing the fact that it will be a day game after a night game. The Cubs added catcher P.J. Higgins to their taxi squad in Cincinnati in case they need to add another catcher to the active roster before the weekend is over.
“[Contreras] is gonna have a heavy workload, he’ll be a guy we lean on all year,” Ross said. “We’re going to be as smart as possible with that.”
Contreras is hitting .238/.333/.512 with seven home runs in 25 games so far this season -- the seven homers equal his home run output from last season in more than twice the number of at-bats.
Thompson called up, Ryan optioned to Iowa
The Cubs called up right-hander Keegan Thompson from their alternate training site prior to Saturday’s game in Cincinnati. In a corresponding move, Chicago optioned left-hander Kyle Ryan to Triple-A Iowa.
Thompson, 26, is the club’s No. 14 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. His first appearance with the Cubs will be his Major League debut. He gave up five earned runs in five innings during Cactus League play before being sent to the alternate training site to begin the regular season. He missed most of the 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery but pitched well last summer at the Cubs’ alternate site.
“I thought Keegan threw the ball really well and opened a lot of eyes in the spring,” Ross said. “I saw a strike-thrower with real stuff, pitchability -- meaning control of the strike zone in and out, up and down -- great secondary stuff. I think he’s got a starter mix, which is really, really good for the bullpen because he gives us some length out of there. He could go multiple [innings] for us. I was impressed.”
Ryan pitched 2 2/3 scoreless frames over two relief appearances for the Cubs after being called up on April 23. He’s looking to return to his 2019 form -- that season, he was one of the Cubs’ best relievers, turning in a 3.54 ERA in 73 appearances. Last season, COVID-19 protocols delayed his season debut, and he struggled to a 5.17 ERA in 18 appearances.