Ross on Villar at SS: ‘We only have so many guys'


David Ross has no choice. Not if he ever wants to give Nico Hoerner a day off. Not until Andrelton Simmons returns from that shoulder injury — whenever that distant date might be.

In other words, say hello again to backup shortstop Jonathan Villar, and if you’re rooting for the Cubs, hold your breath in those games if it’s close in hopes that an inning like Sunday’s fourth doesn’t rear its ugly head.

A one-out error on a muffed sharp grounder and two-out throwing error on a routine play allowed the only Pirates base runner of the inning to reach base and to score a final Pirates run that held up as the difference in a 4-3 loss that closed out a rough homestand — and exposed one of the Cubs' biggest shortcomings this side of their starting rotation depth.

The veteran Villar has proven to add a valuable bat to Ross’ options but no great options when it comes to his glove — especially on the left side of the infield.

The first error Sunday eventually was changed by the official scorer, but the original call was correct (and it didn’t prevent the pivotal run from being unearned) — which would make three errors in two starts at short, including another muff on a routine double-play ball to his left in Colorado 10 days earlier.

“What’s he got, two games there?” Ross said when asked about his confidence level in Villar at short. “Out of how many we played? Yeah, so he’s our backup shortstop right now.”

That’s the thing about roster transitions and financially driven resets or soft tanks or whatever you want to call what baseball’s revenue giants of the Midwest have been doing the last 18 months or so.

Seiya Suzuki and Marcus Stroman are really cool. But they can’t paper over all the holes Ross has to manage as he tries to keep the Cubs upright in a division with two contenders and two tankers.

And when it comes to Villar at short, that’s not one of those small sample sizes you want to wait to play out any larger than it already is.

The Cubs have officially committed seven errors this season. Villar has four, including two at third. That doesn’t count the error he cost catcher Yan Gomes Wednesday when he misplayed a throw from behind the plate, or, obviously, the one that was mercifully erased Sunday.

“We’ve got Andrelton Simmons out; we only have so many guys,” Ross said. “[Patrick] Wisdom’s our third baseman and an outfielder. [Nick] Madrigal’s pretty comfortable at second. So our depth piece at shortstop is Jonathan Villar.”


The road doesn’t get any easier for Ross and the Cubs’ roster shortcomings as they head to Atlanta for a series against the defending World Series champs, then to Milwaukee to face the defending division champs — who have gone 9-4 (through Saturday) since losing the first two games of the season at Wrigley.

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