Alzolay (finger blister) to IL; Williams update

June 9th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- The Cubs are hoping 's trip to the injured list will serve two purposes. First and foremost, it will give the pitcher time to let a nagging blister heal. It is also a chance to give the rookie a breather.

"It's not all bad news," Cubs manager David Ross said on Tuesday. "In theory, it's giving him a slight break in the action. Hopefully, he's able to get that finger taken care of and we put him right back in there. He's a really big piece for us."

Prior to Tuesday's game against the Padres, the Cubs placed Alzolay on the 10-day IL due to a blister on his right middle finger. The starter has dealt with the minor issue for two starts, but it became especially problematic during his outing in Monday's 9-4 loss at Petco Park.

Alzolay lasted just three innings, saw his velocity take a nosedive on his last two sinkers and issued a season-high five walks. The righty had five walks total in his previous six turns, during which he posted a 2.94 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings.

Alzolay said Tuesday that he was optimistic about needing only the 10 days required on the IL.

"I think that's the plan," Alzolay said. "Let that blister heal completely, because it's been bothering me for the last two outings. Let it heal so I can get back to 100 percent and get back out there and throw."

In the meantime, the Cubs recalled righty Kohl Stewart from Triple-A Iowa and activated righty Alec Mills from the 10-day IL. That gives Chicago a pair of multi-inning arms to help a tired bullpen, but it also presents two possibilities for the rotation with Alzolay out.

The Cubs have an off-day on Thursday, so it is possible to limit Alzolay's absence to one turn in the rotation. Chicago then has some flexibility for Saturday, when the Cardinals will be in Wrigley Field. Either Mills or Stewart could take that start.

If Alzolay does not encounter any setbacks, he could potentially come back on June 18 at the earliest. The pitcher did not want to go on the IL, but he also understands the possible benefit of the in-season break. Every inning Alzolay (57 2/3 innings to date) logs from here on out is a career high.

"I really wanted to keep pitching," Alzolay said. "But I feel like, yeah, being two months into the season, I will take it like a little break. I'll just keep working on my routine, keep my arm moving and my mechanics in sync, so when I come back, I can start off [strong]."

Williams on slow road back
thought he was dealing with a violent reaction to food poisoning when he had "extreme" stomach pain on the night of May 29. He did not expect to wind up in a hospital undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

"We ran tests," Williams said Tuesday. "We pressed on my stomach and it was like, 'Yeah, you should probably go to the ER.' But I was just pissed. I was like, 'I don't want to go to the ER at midnight on a Saturday to get fluids. I'll just wait until the morning.'

"Our team doctor was doing what doctors do, right? Looking out for me. He was like, 'Please go to the ER. If your appendix does rupture, you're going to be in a lot more pain.' And then they ran tests and said, 'Yeah, we have to take it out right now.'

"I was like, all right, cool. Of course. In the middle of the season, right? This couldn't happen in November?"

Williams called the job Stewart did as a rotation replacement "awesome," especially under the circumstances. There is still no timetable for return, but Williams has resumed playing light catch while on the road with the team over the past six days.

Worth noting
• Javier Báez was out of the starting lineup on Tuesday for the second game in a row due to right hand soreness. With an off-day coming Thursday, Ross said he may try to avoid using the shortstop off the bench unless absolutely necessary.

"I just want to make sure it's 100 percent," said Ross, who noted that the shortstop had not resumed hitting. "That's something that, one ball in, if you pull your hands in and jam it again [it can get worse]. He still feels it a little bit."

• OF Nick Martini cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Iowa. Martini was designated for assignment by the Cubs on Saturday, when Jason Heyward returned from the 10-day IL.

"He's like a big kid. No care in the world. He's fun. He calls me coach. He's a trip. I looked back at him in the dugout yesterday, 'What do you got, coach?' I was like, 'I've got nothing. I'm just looking back.' He goes, 'I thought you were fixin' to get me ready to pinch-hit.' I was like, 'Relax. We're in the third. I know I've got a quick trigger, but relax.'" -- Ross, on Joc Pederson