Kris Bryant scratched, still hits fifth and sixth spring homers

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Cubs third base prospect Kris Bryant was scratched from Saturday’s Cactus League exhibition against the Athletics due to right shoulder fatigue. He pinch-hit for Anthony Rizzo in the DH spot in the third inning and took Jesse Hahn deep for a two-run home run. In his next at-bat, Bryant went yard against Evan Scribner for a solo home run. The Cubs went on to win 3-1, with Bryant accounting for all three runs.

Bryant, 23, leads the majors in spring home runs with six. Randal Grichuk and Alex Rios entered the afternoon tied in second place with three dingers. Bryant is currently 9-for-20 (.450) with nine RBI along with the six long balls.

The Cubs plan to have Bryant start the season in the minor leagues. Mike Olt will be the club’s regular third baseman, but Bryant should earn a promotion in late April or early May. In 594 plate appearances between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa last season, Bryant hit a robust .325/.438/.661 with 43 home runs and 110 RBI.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.