— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 31, 2016
Huh, that didn’t take long. It’s peak Maddon to throw Tommy La Stella right back into the fray by having him starting at 2B and batting 7th tonight against the Pirates, but it’s also a little odd. My initial theory was that TLS would come back to Chicago early this week to clear the air and mend fences and would be activated once rosters expand on Thursday. Having him playing Wednesday night, then, means someone had to come off the 25-man roster.
When I began typing this up, there was no word on the corresponding move but my thought was that Spencer Patton was the most likely casualty. Sure enough, he was optioned back to Iowa to make room for La Stella. I’m not sure why the Cubs went with this timing, since La Stella was already playoff-roster eligible and they could’ve made the move tomorrow without optioning Patton at all. Given the bullpen’s usage lately, I figured it’d be all hands on deck.
Then again, Patton hasn’t necessarily been lights-out and maybe they wanted to make sure the reliever got more opportunities to pitch over the next few days than he’d have gotten in Chicago. Oh well, the rationale doesn’t really matter at this point. I’m interested to hear what La Stella has to say about his return, if he has anything to say at all. He hasn’t talked to the media since coming back from his walk-about and he’s not obligated to do so now.
The important thing is that his presence in the lineup signals that Maddon and the front office are comfortable with him and, presumably, his teammates are too.