8/27/2014 12:46 A.M. ET
Starlin returns after taking bereavement leave
By Carrie Muskat and Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Shortstop Starlin Castro returned to the Cubs and was in the starting lineup for their series opener against the Reds on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park after being on bereavement leave.
Castro went back to his native Dominican Republic to be with family following a car crash that killed a relative and three friends last Wednesday.
"He's doing fine. He was thankful to be able to go home and be with his family, just to put closure with his family member there," manager Rick Renteria said. "He said he's ready to go. He looks like he's in a good place."
"Losing people in your family is not easy," said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. "It's a reality check for everyone, not just for us, but everyone who knows him. One day you're here, and one day you're gone. It's life, and that's why you appreciate little things so much, because you just don't know what's going to happen at any time. ... It's just a tough time, and you just want to support him."
Castro went 2-for-4 in the Cubs' 3-0 victory.
Rizzo hits 30th homer before precautionary exit
CINCINNATI -- Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo left Tuesday's 3-0 victory over the Reds in the eighth inning with lower back tightness.
"He's ready to go again," manager Rick Renteria said after the game. "I did it more as a precaution. There was no need to push Rizz. I certainly expect [him to be back in the lineup on Wednesday] unless something else comes up."
Rizzo went 1-for-4 with a home run, his 30th of the season. He is the seventh left-handed batter in Cubs history to hit at least 30 homers in a season. The last to do so was Fred McGriff, who hit 30 in 2002.
"It's great, especially in this organization with a lot of history, a lot of great players," he said of his homer. "But the season's not over, you've just gotta keep going and keep playing."
Chris Valaika replaced Rizzo at first base.
Cubs excited to welcome Soler for latest debut
CINCINNATI -- With Jorge Soler scheduled to join the Cubs in Cincinnati on Wednesday, a second member of the so-called "core four" Cubs prospects who are at the center of Chicago's rebuilding effort will be making his Major League debut this month.
The 22-year-old from Cuba is ranked as the Cubs' No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, and will join 21-year-old Javier Baez, who made his big league debut on Aug. 5. Chicago's No. 1 prospect, Kris Bryant, and No. 4 prospect, Albert Almora, are the other "core four" members. Bryant is at Triple-A Iowa and Almora is at Double-A Tennessee.
Soler missed much of 2013 with a fractured left tibia as a result of a ball he fouled off his leg. He also sustained strained hamstrings in each leg earlier this season. But he still posted a .340/.432/.700 line with 15 home runs and 57 RBIs between the Cubs' Rookie league (rehab games), Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
"I think it's pretty exciting for the whole organization," manager Rick Renteria said. "A young man that's been talked about quite a bit will be joining us tomorrow. Everybody's pretty excited about it."
The Cubs' youth movement, which has been heralded since president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer took the helm, has been materializing at the big league level, particularly over the past two months. Baez, along with Arismendy Alcantara, Kyle Hendricks and others have made their first appearances with the club.
"We're starting to see that light at the end of the tunnel," said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. "There's always an expectation to win, but with these guys coming up, they're going to be patient and let them develop and get their at-bats in, but at the same time, we want to win, too."
The Cubs didn't wait until rosters would expand from 25 to 40 players on Sept. 1 to bring Soler up, but that doesn't surprise Renteria.
"I'm sure that the organization feels that he's been moving along and that they'd like to get him up here to start experiencing some big league baseball and kind of get his feet wet and chip away and see how he goes," Renteria said.
"I'm not [surprised]," he said. "He's been on a tear, he's been doing everything you can do, and having an extra week, to having five weeks in the big leagues would be good -- to have him up here and get him going and go into the offseason on a high note, or maybe he doesn't do so well here, but going into the offseason knowing what to work on."
Soler will have the comfort of seeing several familiar faces in the visitor's clubhouse when he gets to Great American Ball Park, with Baez, Alcantara and others who have preceded him on the path to the Majors there to welcome him.
"With people coming up that you've played with before, it's good because you know how they play the game and you can still learn stuff from them," Baez said. "I'm pretty sure he knows how to handle [the expectations], but if anything comes up, I'm sure he'll ask me or the other guys how to handle stuff."
"I think the benefit is that he's probably going to see his teammates relaxed and comfortable in their environment," Renteria said of Soler, "which hopefully will translate to him feeling comfortable in his environment."
Renteria said Soler will likely play right field and bat fifth or sixth in the lineup against the Reds on Wednesday.
"We have yet to kind of finish the final conclusion as to where he'll be, but he'll be somewhere in that order," Renteria said.
Russell among Cubs slated for Fall League
CHICAGO -- Shortstop Addison Russell, ranked No. 3 on MLB.com's list of the Cubs' Top 20 Prospects list, and No. 6 on list of the game's Top 100 Prospects, will play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.
The Cubs acquired the shortstop on July 4 from the Athletics in a deal involving right-handers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Russell is batting .297 in 62 games this season, and since joining Double-A Tennessee, he has hit .297 with 12 home runs and 10 doubles in 44 games.
A strong right-handed hitter, the 20-year-old Russell batted .282 in 21 games for the Mesa Solar Sox last year, and he was teammates with Cubs prospects Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Wes Darvill, Dallas Beeler, Matt Loosen, Armando Rivero and Lendy Castillo. This year, Castillo will be reunited with some of his teammates from the A's Minor League system who will also be on Mesa.
A first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Russell batted .275 in 107 games at Class A Advanced Stockton in 2013.
Another player on the Cubs' Top 20 Prospects list who's scheduled to play for Mesa is right-handed pitcher C.J. Edwards (ranked No. 6), who will turn 23 on Sept. 3. In nine starts at Tennessee this year, Edwards has given up 11 earned runs on 26 hits and 18 walks over 44 innings. He's struck out 45. In his Minor League career, Edwards has given up two home runs over 233 innings.
Russell and Edwards will be joined by other Cubs prospects on Mesa, including right-handed pitchers Zach Cates and Ivan Pineyro, lefty Gerardo Concepcion, first baseman Dan Vogelbach (No. 11) and outfielder Jacob Hannemann. Hannemann will be on the taxi squad and play twice a week.
Vogelbach was batting .266 with 15 home runs, 27 doubles and 72 RBIs at Class A Daytona this season.
The Arizona Fall League will open on Oct. 7, and teams will play at the Spring Training stadiums in the Phoenix area, including Cubs Park in Mesa, Ariz. Bryant was named the Fall League's Most Valuable Player last year.
Sweeney exits with left hamstring strain
CINCINNATI -- Cubs outfielder Ryan Sweeney left Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Reds in the second inning with a strained left hamstring.
Sweeney was injured while running out a ground ball he hit up the middle to lead off the second, on which Cincinnati shortstop Zack Cozart made a pretty spinning throw to get Sweeney at first base.
"We'll see how he is tomorrow," manager Rick Renteria said. "I think we'll wait until tomorrow to see how it shakes out."
Rookie Matt Szczur replaced Sweeney in right field in the bottom half of the frame.
Outfielder Justin Ruggiano was continuing to nurse a sore left ankle on Tuesday and was not in the starting lineup for the Cubs' series opener against Cincinnati.
"He's still managing it," Renteria said. "We'll see how to proceed with him. It's day to day."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.