May 11, 2022
Cubs SS Hoerner leaves game after colliding with umpire
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Chicago Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner came out of Wednesday’s series finale against the Padres with a sprained right ankle an inning after colliding with second base umpire Dan Iassogna in center field.
Hoerner was on the ground in pain after the collision in the first inning and was tended to by a trainer.He stayed in, batted in the second inning and struck out. Hoerner was replaced in the bottom half of the inning by Ildemaro Vargas.
Hoerner had X-rays, which were negative. He is listed as day-to-day.
Hoerner was running out to take the throw from Jason Heyward after Jurickson Profar hit a flyball over the center fielder’s head for a triple.
Iassogna, the crew chief, stayed in the game.
Both men said the Cubs being in a shift led to the collision.
“In the shift, sometimes you’re in different places than people are used to sometimes,” Hoerner said. “I was watching the ball just like the umpire was and I was on the ground before I really realized what happened. We were both just doing our jobs and weird things happen sometimes.”
Iassogna said was running into the outfield, ready to make a call on any potential play, “and I never saw him. I don’t believe he saw me. There was definitely a collision. I know he said that he got his feet caught up in mine and went down.”
Asked how tricky those plays are with infielders shifting into the shallow outfield, Iassogna said: “Apparently it’s very tricky.”
He said he’s still trying to do his job the same way. “I’m seeing the ball and trying to pick up the fielder. When I made my initial look, I didn’t see anybody. I thought I had an open road and then we backed into each other. It’s too bad that it happened.”
Iassogna said he checked with manager David Ross during the game on Hoerner’s condition, and then checked with the shortstop afterward.
“I know Dan feels terrible,” Ross said. “He was checking on him here after the game. It was just one of those fluke things. I think Nico’s going to be all right. We’ll see maybe in a couple of days.”
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How the Chicago Cubs aggressive base-running approach pushing the envelope is paying off
The Chicago Cubs needed a ninth-inning rally, and catcher Willson Contreras saw an opportunity.
Contreras motored from first to third base on a two-out Ian Happ single to right field Tuesday at Petco Park, putting the tying run 90 feet from home. Although they ultimately would lose to the San Diego Padres on Frank Schwindel’s flyout to the wall after Patrick Wisdom was hit to load the bases, base-running plays like Contreras’ have became a staple of the Cubs’ offensive profile.
“That’s going to be part of some of the risks that we’re going to take this season is just trying to maximize the areas where we can take chances,” manager David Ross said this week. “For us to compete, we’ve got to do that a little bit more and take some chances in areas. … Guys have done a nice job of pushing the envelope.”
The Cubs have been one of the best teams at taking extra bases. Their 52% Extra Bases Taken Percentage (XBT%) is third highest in the majors, well above the average of 43%. With a runner on first, a Cubs base runner has advanced to third or scored 23 times, tying them for second most in those situations.
For an offense averaging 2.75 runs in the last 20 games, excluding the 21-run game outlier against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs could do a better job of taking advantage of when runners are on base. Relying on contact to produce runs makes cashing in when hitters get on base much more important. Entering their weekend series against the Diamondbacks in Arizona, 30% of Cubs base runners have scored after reaching; the MLB average is 31%.
First-base coach Mike Napoli has taken on base running among his duties. Despite being a catcher-turned-first baseman, Napoli was known for his stellar base running during his 12-year MLB career. He recalled how after the Los Angeles Angels drafted him, the organization prioritized base running. Players weren’t going to reach the big leagues if they weren’t good on the basepaths.
Napoli always felt pride in that area of his game. He took more chances on the bases while in the minors to figure out which situations he could take an extra base. So when he was called up for the first time in 2006 after six years in the minors, Napoli already understood his base running strengths and techniques.
Part of Napoli and the Cubs’ base-running teaching process involves highlighting a smart play or when someone makes a mistake, whether its from their team or an opponent. It provides concrete examples of what the Cubs want from their base runners. Sound base running technique also helps third-base coach Willie Harris’ in-game decision-making for when to send a runner home.
“I was a bigger guy, wasn’t the fastest, but I try to explain to these guys, it’s just anticipation, knowing the game, knowing situations and thinking about getting 90 feet because 90 feet can win you a baseball game,” Napoli told the Tribune. “We won playoff games when I played because someone got an extra 90 feet. The importance of that has been lost a little bit in the game today.
“A lot of guys go through the minor leagues, and it’s two years in the minors and then they’re in the big leagues. … It’s a little bit harder trying to teach it at the big-league level because it all counts.”
Contreras has been one of the Cubs’ most successful aggressive runners while limiting mistakes. He leads the team with seven bases taken, including three on first-to-third or scoring. Wisdom and Seiya Suzuki rank second with four.
The Cubs’ aggressiveness has a drawback at times. They have committed too many base-running mistakes. The Cubs’ 13 Outs on Base (OOB) are tied for the third most in the majors. These do not include pickoffs, caught stealing or forceouts. Five have occurred at second base (tied for first) and four at third (tied for second).
Finding a balance between smart aggressiveness and being responsible on the bases is a middle ground the Cubs are trying to navigate.
“It is important to have guys in motion, especially as much we put the ball on the ground,” Ross said. “And as much as we make contact that the more we can get action on the bases, that will help us stay out of double plays more.”