Morale is low. The Chicago Cubs have fallen to third place in the NL Central division after losing their eighth straight game on Saturday to the Cincinnati Reds. With the team needing a spark and just some overall positive vibes, they’ve activated infielder Nico Hoerner from the injured list. Infielder Sergio Alcantara was optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room for him.
The former top prospect made a lasting impression in spring training. He added muscle in the offseason and many, including myself, felt he should’ve been on the Opening Day roster. There was also the possibility of service time manipulation in play. In 21 regular season games, he’s slashing .338/.405/.432 with a 135 OPS+. He’s also bailed out pitchers like Andrew Chafin by playing Gold Glove caliber defense at second base.
Hoerner exited a May 25 game against the Pittsburgh Pirates due to a hamstring injury. Since then, the Cubs have hit a major league-worst .200 and struck out at a major league-worst 28.8 percent clip. In his limited MLB action this season, Hoerner has only struck out 14.3 percent of the time. A contact hitter of his caliber is a much-needed addition to the Cubs lineup. In the month of May, the Cubs went 9-3 with Nico Hoerner in the starting lineup. Each of the three losses was by one run.
As for his character and work ethic, Hoerner reported early for his rehab assignment to get back as soon as he could.
Many speculated whether the move would lead to Eric Sogard's designation for assignment. However, after starting out hitting well, Sergio Alcantara is only 2-for-his-last-29 with a .069 batting average. Alcantara has a lot of tools. He plays good defense and has speed, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see him back with the team at some point this season.
As for now, welcoming back Nico Hoerner is uplifting to a struggling team. This is the type of news Cubs fans needed on Independence Day. Let's hope this will be a turning point and the Cubs can get back to their winning ways. He's in today's lineup, batting sixth and playing second base.