Kawasaki Released, Cubs Roster Now at 30

In a move that really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, the Cubs have released Munenori Kawasaki. The veteran middle infielder was thoroughly blocked and wasn’t even on the 40-man roster, though he could have reprised his role as an organizational depth guy and all-around awesome character.

The Cubs said they wanted to give Kawasaki the opportunity to explore other big league possibilities, but this move is also about giving the young guys as much playing time as possible. With the news that Ian Happ is going to open the season at AAA, there just wasn’t room at Iowa for the Japanese import. Should things not work out elsewhere, however, the Cubs would certainly welcome Kawasaki back.

While his fame never reached that of David Ross, Kawasaki was a player whose fan appeal far exceeded what could reasonably have been expected from his ability. You love having a guy like that around when possible because he’s a great asset in the clubhouse and with younger players (like Jeimer Candelario, who had become Kawasaki’s shadow this spring). Given their estimable talent and character, though, the Cubs didn’t really need such a boost.

Since we’re on the topic of middle infielders and back, Addison Russell says his feels “95 percent better” and that he could be in the lineup by Wednesday. If the soreness is still there, he could end up going on the DL — probably the new, shorter 10-day version — and missing the start of the season.

Good luck, Muni, at least we’ll always have that sweet Kirin ad.

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