‘He was the right decision’: Cubs lay out plan for Alexander Canario

Cubs right-hander Shane Greene made his Cubs debut on Sunday, but Canario has yet to make his MLB debut.

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The Cubs recalled Cubs prospect Alexander Canario on Friday, but he has yet to debut. File photo.

The Cubs recalled Cubs prospect Alexander Canario on Friday, but he has yet to debut. File photo.

John Antonoff / for the Sun-Times

CINCINNATI — Right-hander Shane Greene made his debut with the Cubs in the 15-7 victory Sunday against the Reds. 

He entered in the ninth inning and needed just nine pitches to finish the game, allowing a leadoff single and recording a strikeout.

Outfielder Alexander Canario, the other player called up Friday when rosters expanded to 28 players, did not appear in the weekend series.  

The Cubs made it clear as August ended that there weren’t starting spots open for whichever position-player prospect they called up Sept. 1.

When asked Friday about weighing the consistent playing time Canario would get if he stayed in Triple-A Iowa versus the impact he could have as a bat off the bench for the major-league team, president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer implied that Canario’s call-up was likely temporary.  

“He’ll get at-bats for sure the rest of the way,” Hoyer said. “He’s not going to be in a position where he’s not playing for the entire month. But someone was going to have their every-day playing paused, right? And maybe that ends up being a lot of people at different stages of the month. But we did talk about it, and it was a consideration. But ultimately, he was the right decision.”

Canario, who came back from two surgeries last offseason, posted a .987 OPS in Triple-A last month. But manager David Ross noted from the get-go that Canario wasn’t going to be the first player off the bench. 

“He’s probably on the back end of the depth chart,” Ross said.

Sunday looked like it was shaping up to be a spot for Canario’s debut. The Reds, with COVID-19 sweeping through their pitching staff, called up Carson Spiers from Double-A to start. If the Cubs could run up the score early, Ross could get the every-day players off their feet in the late innings by bringing in the bench. 

Instead, the game remained close until the eighth inning, when the Cubs put together a seven-run rally.

Relief options

Three pitchers — Brandon Hughes (knee surgery), Nick Burdi (appendectomy) and Ben Brown (left lat/oblique injury) — appeared for the Iowa Cubs on Sunday. Hughes and Burdi are on rehab assignments, and Brown was activated off the minor-league IL. Each threw a scoreless inning, and Brown struck out two.

The Cubs will be using their extra pitcher roster spot in September to cycle through bullpen options. Depending on how those rehabbing pitchers progress, they could provide depth later this month.

Brown, ranked the Cubs’ No. 5 prospect, was expected to be a September call-up before the Iowa Cubs put him on the IL one month ago. The Cubs see him as a future big-league starter. But they also believe that with his arsenal, he could help them out of the bullpen. No matter the role, he first has to ramp up into game shape. 

This and that

Right-hander Marcus Stroman (fractured rib cartilage) is expected to throw a bullpen Monday at the Cubs’ Arizona complex.

• Corner infielder Jeimer Candelario hit his second home run in as many days. In his last eight games, he has gone 3-for-25, but all three hits have been homers. 

• Center fielder Mike Tauchman recorded the first four-hit game of his career. He also scored three runs and had three RBI.

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