CHICAGO -- All Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted to do with Addison Russell was get the shortstop an at-bat in the eighth inning on Saturday. Russell was activated from the disabled list before the game after being sidelined since Aug. 3 with a strained right foot. Russell made the most
CHICAGO -- All Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted to do with Addison Russell was get the shortstop an at-bat in the eighth inning on Saturday. Russell was activated from the disabled list before the game after being sidelined since Aug. 3 with a strained right foot. Russell made the most of it.
Russell received a standing ovation when he led off the eighth, and gave the crowd more reason to cheer when he hit a Statcast™-projected 437-foot home run to help secure the Cubs' 4-1 win over the Cardinals.
"It was a pretty special moment in my life," Russell said. "Walking up to the plate, I couldn't help but smile inside. I felt like it was pretty fun."
He even got a curtain call.
"Sometimes I surprise myself," Russell said. "I've been definitely working hard. I've been trying to prepare myself for the moment that just happened. I keep working and getting mentally and physically game-ready. I'll be fine."
Said Maddon: "[What he did] reminded you what we've been missing which is his presence. And look at the defense on the field to end the game. Pretty nice looking out there. Bully for him to be ready to hit a home run today. I talked to him before, and he was absolutely ready to play today."
Before the game, Maddon talked more about how eager he was to have Russell back at shortstop with Javier Baez moving back to second base.
"You saw it last year, you've seen what Javy has done at shortstop this year," Maddon said Saturday. "We know how much we like Addison at shortstop and Javy at second. It'll be nice to throw that out there in the latter part of the game with the lead."
When Russell was first promoted to the big leagues in 2015, he started at second base but switched spots with Starlin Castro in August that year, and has flourished since.
"Javy has done great," Maddon said. "But what will stick in my mind's eye when [Russell] is there [at shortstop] and Javy's at second, it's really difficult to beat. Javy is elite at both positions, but I think he might be one of the top two or three second basemen in baseball."
How Russell's return affects the playing time of Benjamin Zobrist and rookie Ian Happ remains to be seen. They have shared second base since Russell was sidelined.
"Javy definitely plays a great shortstop, a great second base and I enjoy watching him play," Russell said. "As far as the shortstop perspective, I have to be back out there."
• Pitcher Jacob Arrieta threw 42 pitches in a bullpen on Saturday, but the Cubs were not ready to announce the next step. Arrieta has been sidelined since he strained his right hamstring on Sept. 4. If he gets the go-ahead, the right-hander could start three more games, beginning with the Cubs' series against the Brewers on Sept. 21.
Jonathan Lester will open the Cubs' Interleague series on Tuesday against the Rays. Wednesday's starter has not been named yet.
• Reliever Koji Uehara, who was expected to return on Friday, remained unavailable because of a back problem. Uehara had been bothered by an infection in his right knee.
"He's still not ready," Maddon said Saturday. "We talked [Friday]. He's still not ready to go out there. I'm going to have to re-evaluate it or re-assess that."
The Cubs are short-handed in the bullpen with Uehara and Hector Rondon both unavailable. Rondon, who has inflammation in his right elbow, has not pitched since Sept. 8.
• Kristopher Bryant has scored nine times in the last four Cubs games, and he ranks fourth in the National League with 104 runs. He's the 12th Cubs player since 1913 to record multiple 100-run seasons.
"He is a run," Maddon said of Bryant. "He's kind of like what Gene Mauch used to talk about Paul Molitor -- whenever he goes up to the plate, he looks like a run. That's where K.B. is. He's such a good baserunner. He accepts his walks, he hits for a good average. He plays a complete game of baseball. Right now, he is definitely one of the top five baserunners in all of baseball."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.