Hendricks told the team he wasn’t feeling well, so he was replaced with Alec Mills as a precaution about 30 minutes prior to first pitch. Though Ross said, after the win, that Hendricks’ COVID-19 test came back negative, considering the situation the Cubs have been in over the last week, they believed it was necessary.
Infielder Matt Duffy went on the COVID-19-related injured list on Tuesday, joining relievers Dan Winkler and Brandon Workman. Reliever Jason Adam had also been on the IL but was removed Wednesday. The players’ situation, in addition to positive cases from first-base coach Craig Driver and bullpen coach Chris Young, has forced the Cubs to be even more cautious when anyone around the team experiences any symptoms.
“With a couple positives on the coaching staff, we have to be ultimately conservative when it comes to guys just having a runny nose or a little stopped up and congested,” Ross said Wednesday. “We have to really be careful and make sure we’re being diligent and awake.”
“I feel like the daily or twice-daily testing has become the stats I’m looking at right now, and that’s not what you want to be doing,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer added. “Last year, obviously, we were able to avoid this scenario, and this year we’ve had a couple coaches test positive, and as a result we’ve had to act with an abundance of caution.”
Hendricks’ situation presented a problem for Ross, who had to quickly find a replacement on the bump. Though Mills performed admirably in Hendricks’ absence, the sudden scratch wasn’t the ideal pregame situation for the Cubs. Still, Ross has been encouraged by how Hendricks and the rest of his team is actively communicating their health status, as Chicago navigates through another COVID-affected season.
“I think all our guys, including Kyle, are commendable for coming in and reporting these things and trying to not just [look] out for themselves, but looking out for the group,” Ross said. “I would definitely say that’s an A-plus in my book.”
But the Cubs are not out of the woods yet. They still await the return of multiple players and coaches, and the club is hoping no more positives come from the daily tests. No additional confirmed cases have come up, but more work still needs to be done before everything is back under control.
“To be totally candid, it’s a hard [situation] to talk about right now, because obviously we’ve gotten a lot of negative tests back. But given the incubation periods and stuff like that, you never know when that’s going to change,” Hoyer said. “It feels like every day is sort of a new challenge with this.”
Cubs make roster moves
Catcher Austin Romine was activated off the injured list and inserted into the starting lineup for Wednesday’s matchup with the Brewers. Romine will start in place of Willson Contreras, which Ross said was a move to get Contreras an extra day of rest with an off-day coming Thursday.
Romine was signed in the offseason to be the primary backup to Contreras, but he didn’t play in a Spring Training game after March 6 due to a right knee injury.
“He’s built up just like his program that we laid out had established, except for one rainout,” Ross said. “… Talked to him [Wednesday] morning. He feels good and ready to go, so he’s been on track. Everything looks a-OK.”
In a corresponding move, the Cubs designated catcher Tony Wolters for assignment. Wolters was brought in on March 31 to fill in for Romine, and he had appeared in three games.
Chicago also selected right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller from the alternate training site in South Bend, Ind., while activating Adam from the COVID-19-related IL. In turn, pitchers Adbert Alzolay and Brad Wieck were sent to the alternate site.