The Rundown: Good News for Contreras, Rally Cat Missing, More

Not since Cliff Levingston helped the Bulls learn to fly has Chicago gotten such good news. Okay, maybe that’s a little much considering that Willson Contreras could still miss a month or more of the season, but the expectation is that he’ll be able to return to action by at least mid-September. After watching him hobble down the line Wednesday afternoon like Jake Taylor, I know I wasn’t alone in fearing the worst.

According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, who got his information from an MLB source, Contreras will be out for at least two weeks and maybe more based on how the recovery proceeds. But given that the worst-case scenario for a hamstring injury is a complete tear that could take months to heal, just knowing that he could be back this season at all is nearly as refreshing as seeing Mitchell Trubisky lead the Bears to a touchdown running the two-minute drill in a preseason game.

There I go again, referencing other teams and highly incongruous situations.

The only other teams the Cubs need to be worried about right now are those coming up on the schedule, which eases up at just the right time. After the D-backs, that is. After this three-game set in the desert, the Cubs’ next 24 games come against teams that are under .500 as of Friday. They could not have picked a better point in the season for this injury to take place.

Of course, making it through even this relatively easy stretch with their division lead intact isn’t going to a cakewalk. St. Louis has moved into sole possession of second place and sits just a game back of the Cubs, with the Brewers fading but still within striking distance. It won’t be enough to simply tread water for the next few weeks, which means getting big contributions from the rest of the team.

First among those would-be impact players is Alex Avila, who came over as something of a secondary piece in the Justin Wilson trade. The Cubs had absolutely been targeting a backup catcher, and had looked at Avila in particular for a while, but he was really only viewed as a luxury. Now the man whose own father didn’t want him around in Detroit has now become a necessity for the Cubs.

No stranger to backup roles in the past, the surprisingly productive Avila understands why he’s in Chicago and what he needs to do.

“Hopefully, (Contreras) gets back as quickly as possible,” Avila said Wednesday after the injury occurred. “We’ll just have to figure out how to pick up the slack from here throughout the lineup and find a way to get some runs across the board and get a little consistency on the offensive side.”

Actually, that last statement would be perfectly apropos of this team whether or not they were at full strength. Maybe now it’ll finally happen.


Remember when the Cubs still sucked and they were routinely lampooned for an ongoing series of PR snafus that included fights with the rooftops, using a picture of Charles Lindbergh at Commisky as part of a mural celebrating Wrigley’s 100th anniversary, and throwing things like Ron Santo memorabilia and a Cake Boss cake in the dumpster? Wow, that was a long sentence.

I can’t imagine what would have happened had the Cubs put forth a statement like the Cards did Thursday afternoon to explain the disappearance of “Rally Cat.”

For the sake of those who can’t view the tweet, here’s the text from the Cardinals’ department of communications:

As everyone observed during last night’s game, Lucas Hackmann, a member of our grounds crew, secured a stray cat in the outfield and exited the playing surface at the left field gate and walked up toward the main concourse at Gate 3. He then let the cat down outside Gate 3 near the Stan Musial statue and went immediately to first aid to attend to his scratch and bite injuries. At that point, as our ushers tried to contain the cat, a fan grabbed it and claimed it was hers. As she left the ballpark, our security team caught up with her and asked her some questions. She then abruptly left with the cat. We understand from media accounts that the woman intended to take it home and care for it, but lost track of it in City Gardens. We are hopeful someone will find the cat and contact us so we can properly care for it. Our grounds crew is working on developing a stray animal protocol to ensure the safety of both crew and animal should this happen again. In the meantime, the Cardinals are looking to scratch the claw their way back to the top of the division standings.

Wow, I just now realized that some of you are still scratching your heads and asking what in the actual eff a Rally Cat is. Well, allow me to supply the nutshell version. Trailing the Royals 5-4 in the bottom of the 6th, the Cardinals had the bases loaded with Yadi Molina at the plate. After taking a first-pitch ball, Molina stepped out of the box and…wait, is he calling his shot?

No, he’s pointing to a cat that had gotten onto the field and was racing around in center. A member of the grounds crew eventually chased the feline interloper down and jogged off the field while being mauled by said feral beast.

Once the cat-scratch fever had broken, Molina dug in once more and — you knew this was coming — hit a grand slam. And if that’s not enough to make you throw up in your mouth just a little bit, the residual power of #RallyCat lingered into the 7th inning of Thursday night’s game, when a Dexter Fowler granny gave the Cards the cushion they needed to beat the Royals again.

Ron Santo’s probably rolling over in his grave seeing another damn cat trying to take the Cubs down.


More news and notes

  • The Royals placed newly-acquired Trevor Cahill on the DL with a shoulder impingement
  • Reynaldo Lopez is being called up to start for the White Sox today
  • The Red Sox are hoping to engage in extension talks with Chris Sale this winter
  • Troy Tulowitzki has been placed on the 60-day DL, effectively ending this season
  • Houston has done a great job of stockpiling young talent, but you wonder how they’re going to be able to keep it all together. Dallas Keuchel was openly critical of the lack of movement at the deadline and Josh Reddick said Thursday that players were “down in the dumps.” Money talks, so ponying up for free agents will bring them to the Astros no matter what, but it doesn’t seem as though GM Jeff Luhnow and the rest of the organization have done a very good job of establishing a strong culture there.


We go now to live coverage of Rally Cat, spotted only a few blocks from Busch Stadium:

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