Rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes will soon compete in alternate site games, and he should thereafter return to the Pirates’ roster, per Kevin Gorman of Triblive.com. Hayes jammed his wrist in the second game of the season. The Pirates have surprisingly held their heads above water in his absence; A win in extras yesterday put their record to 7-9 on the young season. Hayes apparently left some rookie magic behind at the hot corner, as 28-year-old Phillip Evans has slashed .275/.373/.490 in 59 plate appearances as Hayes’ stand-in. Evans has already made 2021 the most prolific campaign of his career, a strong argument to keep a roster spot even after Hayes returns.
Let’s hang out in the NL Central this morning…
- Reds outfielder Shogo Akiyama is working on running drills, per C. Trent Rosecrans of the Athletic (via Twitter). Manager David Bell wants to see Akiyama in game action at the team’s alternate site this weekend. Even with Aristides Aquino on the injured list, the Reds have no shortage of outfielders thanks to the surprising play of Tyler Naquin. Still, if Akiyami can return as he finished last season, he’s undoubtedly an asset. Akiyama posted a 135 wRC+ in September and October of last season while slashing .317/.456/.365 and providing capable defense at all three spots in the outfield.
- Whether or not the Cubs are headed towards a rebuild, it’s a good time to work on extending catcher Willson Contreras, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports. Contreras continues to be one of the more dynamic catchers in the game, both in terms of his personality and his play on the field. The Cubs long-time backstop is off to a hot start at the plate, slashing .273/.400/.614 with five home runs through 55 plate appearances. Contreras will be a free agent after 2022, heading into his age-30 season. Appealing as it may be to keep Contreras in Chicago, extensions for positions players have not been part of the Cubs’ current operating procedure.
- Jordan Hicks is on the Cardinals roster and pitching valuable innings, but he’s also still completing his ramp-up process as he returns from a 22-month layoff, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hicks has tossed seven innings over six appearances, giving up just one earned run on two hits while walking six and striking out seven. More importantly, his stuff has looked as electric as ever, averaging 99.2 mph on his sinking fastball.