January 24, 2021

Cubs' Bryant thanks Moustakas for doing the right thing, sitting out

Kris Bryant said he walked over to Reds second baseman Mike Moustakas on Wednesday and thanked him for doing the right thing.

Moustakas woke up feeling under the weather Sunday, so he stayed home instead of joining his Cincinnati teammates at the ballpark. He turned out to be fine, but because of coronavirus precautions, Moustakas had to sit out two more games. He missed the first two games of the Cubs-Reds series before returning Wednesday with a home run.

“I thanked him,” Bryant said. “Because that’s how we’re going to finish the season. If you wake up and you don’t feel great, or whatever, you have to check that box on the survey that we fill out every morning and go from there.

“I respect everybody who says that they have something. I completely respect them because they are going to be the ones that are helping us finish the season.”

The Cubs and Reds couldn’t finish their four-game series, however. Thursday’s game was rained out, with no makeup date announced. The Cubs are back at Wrigley Field to face Pittsburgh on Friday.

Moustakas talked about his three-day ordeal after Wednesday’s 12-7 victory by the Reds. Center fielder Nick Senzel was in the same boat after feeling ill Sunday, and he also homered in his return to the lineup.

“It was definitely weird,” Moustakas said. “Usually, when you’re not feeling great, you still show up to the field and you play baseball. You get through it that way. Now in this time period we’re in, we just can’t do that anymore. We have to be cautious. We have to be overly cautious, if anything.”

This success story of social distancing played in contrast to what happened at the Marlins-Phillies series last weekend. The Marlins’ number of positive tests among players and coaches rose to 19 on Thursday, while the Phillies announced one coach and a member of the home clubhouse staff tested positive. The Phillies-Blue Jays series this weekend was postponed.

The Cubs still have not had a positive test for COVID-19 among players since summer training began July 3. Second baseman Nico Hoerner told reporters he didn’t leave the team hotel all week except to go to the ballpark.

“It just continues to heighten your awareness of what’s going on and how delicate the situation is,” Cubs manager David Ross said Thursday. “We’re trying to stay in our own little bubble and world and trying to do everything we can to keep ourselves safe.

“It’s a constant reminder to continue to do the things we’ve been doing – wash your hands, wear your mask. It takes a lot of trust in our group to continue to push forward in such a unique environment when you see some of this stuff going on.”

Part of doing the right thing is admitting when you don’t feel well, even knowing it could knock you out of the lineup for three days, as happened to Moustakas and Senzel.

“It’s strange because we haven’t been in this situation ever before as baseball players,” Bryant said. “You say you have the sniffles, and you’re just looked down upon, and you’re judged and stuff like that.”

Moustakas wore a mask while running the bases and playing in the field Wednesday. He said the Reds have a team rule to always wear a mask in the clubhouse, as do the Cubs, and the illness required him to also wear a mask in the dugout.

“I do talk to guys on the other team; I talk to the umpires,” Moustakas said. “And just to kind of make everything easier for everybody. I just wore the mask all day, and it didn’t bother me much.”

Maples sent down: After he gave up four walks Wednesday, the Cubs sent reliever Dillon Maples back to South Bend and recalled pitcher Colin Rea. Rea hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 while recovering from elbow surgery, but he posted good numbers for the Iowa Cubs last summer.