Cubs Recall Russell, Option Almora To Triple-A

Addison Russell hit .313 with three homers in his past 10 games at Triple-A.

August 16, 2019 - 2:49 pm

(670 The Score) Plagued by an inconsistent offense and locked in a tight NL Central race, the Cubs made another move to shake up their team Friday.

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Chicago recalled infielder Addison Russell from Triple-A Iowa and optioned struggling outfielder Albert Almora Jr. there ahead of opening a three-game series at Pittsburgh. 

Russell was demoted to Triple-A on July 24 after performance struggles and what team officials called a lack of focus, which included mental mistakes defensively and baserunning gaffes. Russell is hitting .247 with six homers, 16 RBIs and a .733 OPS in 55 games at the MLB level this season.

He appeared to have found better form lately at Iowa, hitting .313 with three homers in his past 10 games. General manager Jed Hoyer also praised his demeanor in an interview on 670 The Score on Thursday.

"He's playing very well," Hoyer said. "He's been very engaged. Talking to the coaches, his engagement in the dugout and with the coaches has been outstanding. That's certainly something that we've discussed. Part of his demotion was obviously some of those issues in the big leagues that were discussed on this show, talking about missing signs and things like that. All that stuff has been really positive. He's been engaging with his teammates and coaches and hitting well. So I'm proud of him. He took this demotion and didn't sulk. He went down there and really performed. That's a great thing for us."

Related: Jed Hoyer: Still time for Cubs to 'rewrite that script' this season

Almora has been ineffective for most of the season, as he's hitting .243 with 12 homers, 32 RBIs and a .671 OPS in 114 games. 

In an expected move, the Cubs also activated reliever Brandon Kintzler from the injured list Friday. He had been sidelined since Aug. 6 by pectoral inflammation.

Kintzler has been one of the Cubs' most reliable relievers with a 2.33 ERA in 49 appearances. His return will be a welcome sight for a Cubs team that saw four relievers fail to hold a 5-0 lead through seven innings in an eventual 7-5 loss to the Phillies on Thursday night.

In the Phillies' six-run ninth inning that proved fateful for the Cubs, backup shortstop David Bote made an error and second baseman Ian Happ couldn't cleanly field what was ruled a single, two plays that helped open the door for Philadelphia's stunning rally. With the Russell's return and Almora's exit, Happ is expected to get more playing time in center field, a more natural position of his.

The Cubs optioned reliever James Norwood back to Triple-A Iowa in a corresponding move to make room for Kintzler on the 25-man roster.

The Cubs and Cardinals sit in a tie for the NL Central lead entering play Friday, with the Brewers just one game back.