Belli's left knee 'a little sore' after wall robbery of Tucker

Cubs outfielder considered day to day after undergoing further evaluations on Tuesday

May 16th, 2023

HOUSTON -- initially thrust both arms skyward in celebration of center fielder 's leaping catch at the wall in Monday night's 6-4 loss to the Astros. Soon after, the Cubs' right fielder was motioning for an athletic trainer to make their way to the outfield.

In the seventh inning, Bellinger robbed Houston’s Kyle Tucker of an extra-base hit with a highlight-reel catch at the top of Minute Maid Park’s center-field fence. As Bellinger came back down to the warning track, his left knee buckled and the outfielder tumbled to the turf.

After the game, Bellinger was feeling a sense of relief.

“A lot of it. It’s just a little sore,” Bellinger said. “You think of the worst-case situation right away, but it's definitely not that, which is nice.”

On Tuesday, it was more good news after follow-up tests with the Cubs’ medical and training staff. Bellinger was out of the lineup, but he’s considered day to day with left knee soreness. Chicago manager David Ross said there was a chance the outfielder could be available off the bench.

With an off-day on Thursday, the Cubs could take a cautious approach to using Bellinger for the rest of the series in Houston. But Ross said he won’t hesitate to play the center fielder if he is feeling ready to go.

“I'm gonna play him if he feels like playing,” Ross said. “I know the safety net of the off-day on Thursday makes a lot of sense, if he's not feeling well. But I'd love him to be in there if he's healthy.”

Bellinger described the setback as a hyperextension of his left knee, but it was quick and he was able to make the walk off the field under his own power. The Cubs took no chances, sending Miles Mastrobuoni in as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.

Christopher Morel started in center in place of Bellinger on Tuesday night.

Bellinger opened a four-run rally in the fourth inning, finishing 1-for-3 before exiting early. Through 37 games this season, the center fielder is hitting .271 with seven homers, nine doubles, 20 RBIs, 29 runs and an .830 OPS in a resurgent showing for the North Siders.

Along the way, Bellinger has shown why he has a Gold Glove Award on his resume, making impressive running grabs in the gaps, robbing a homer from Jason Heyward in L.A. last month and pulling off another jaw-dropping display on Monday night.

“He's a lot of fun to watch play center field,” Cubs starter Jameson Taillon said. “I never knew he was this good at defense. I love watching him play. It looks like he's just on like a schoolyard out there, like recess, just running balls down.

“I saw the slow-mo replay of [the catch against Tucker]. It was definitely scary. Hopefully he's all right. He's a big part of this team. He brings great energy every day and he's been making great plays all year. So hopefully he's back out there.”