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Chicago Cubs: Hammel activated; La Stella still absent

Jul 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel (39) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel (39) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago Cubs activated Jason Hammel from the bereavement list and optioned Justin Grimm to Iowa. Tommy La Stella remains absent from Triple-A, instead working out back in home in New Jersey.

This Chicago Cubs team has so many key contributors, and when the time comes to make a move, there are never any obvious choices. With Jason Hammel returning from the bereavement list, Justin Grimm was the odd man out and was optioned to Iowa. Grimm was struggling in June but hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 appearances (8 2/3 IP) while striking out 11 and only allowing four hits.

The shuttle to Iowa seems to run from the Cubs’ bullpen. With the acquisitions at the deadline, there aren’t many open places left. And with Trevor Cahill still to return, there are more moves on the way. And I say the shuttle runs from the bullpen because it didn’t get Tommy La Stella there upon his demotion when Chris Coghlan was activated. Don’t get me wrong, La Stella deserves to be on this club, but he had options left and the Cubs are doing all they can to hold on to every last player as long as they can.

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What now hurts La Stella is he looks like a bit of a “cry baby”. After the 72 hour window to report to Iowa, La Stella was a no show. The Cubs said he was given more time to deal with personal matters before reporting–but what that really meant was that he was pouting, He’s running, hitting and working out in New Jersey, but he’s getting no game experience to speak of.

With a little over two weeks to September call-ups, it’s almost assured–or, was at least–that he would be back then. Chances are he still will, but his future with this team after this season may now be in jeopardy. He simply needed to “man up” and accept the move–like Grimm is doing once again. Each time he returns, Grimm makes his case to stay. La Stella has done anything but.

Joe Maddon talked about it while on the Spiegel and Goff show on 670 The Score:

"“We’ve been talking to him,” Maddon said on the Spiegel and Goff Show on 670 The Score. “I’ve texted and talked to him, and we’ve had other folks talk to him also. Right now, I don’t have any kind of conclusion for you honestly. He’s working out back near his home in New Jersey. He’s hitting, he’s running, those kinds of things. So we’re just waiting for him to decide exactly what he wants to do."

This goes beyond disappointment in my opinion. La Stella is a talented player and a great hitter. But you simply have to recognize the situation in front of you and deal with it. If this Cubs’ team was in last place, I might understand it more. But this is the best team in baseball and is trying to end a very long drought. So suck it up, Tommy. Time to put the team before yourself and take care of business.

I hope he gets over whatever it is that’s keeping him from reporting. I like La Stella. At a glance, he doesn’t look like your typical ballplayer. But he’s a good one. It’s sad to see him throw away a good opportunity because of what is essentially a “tantrum”.

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