The brave new world of baseball’s expanded replay is now a reality, and the first challenge has been issued. It happened in today’s Chicago Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game when Cubs manager Rick Renteria asked umpires review an umpire’ call that had Jeff Samardzija out at first base in the fifth inning. The call on the field was confirmed after a 2-minute delay.
A short time later the system was used to overturn a call on the field for the first time ever when Freddy Gonzalez challenged a safe call on a Ryan Braun grounder to third base in the bottom of the sixth of the Braves game against the Brewers. On reply it was shown that the throw to first beat Braun and the call was overturned. That challenge took only 58 seconds
Even though the system was used multiple times during spring training, you have to figure that managers are going to want to ease into using it. These plays? Not that big a deal. But managers likely want to be familiar with it for when a game could turn on a close play.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.