Simmons notches RBI in first start for Cubs
Shortstop Andrelton Simmons made his first start for the Cubs during their 9-0 victory over Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field on Monday.
The 32-year-old veteran signed a one-year deal in March and has been working his way back from shoulder inflammation. Simmons spent six games with Triple-A Iowa on a rehab assignment and came in as a defensive replacement during the Cubs' 3-2 win over Arizona on Sunday.
Simmons hit .223 and had a .283 on-base percentage in 451 plate appearances with Minnesota last season. He is a career .265 hitter who owns four Gold Gloves (2013, '14, '17, '18).
"He's one of the better shortstops," said manager David Ross. "He's got some hardware. Gives a lot of range up the middle."
Simmons cleanly fielded a sharply hit grounder in the first inning then had an RBI during the Cubs' 8-run first inning on a slow, dribbling basehit that went about 45 feet down the third-base line.
Simmons was hoping to return sooner, but felt like he could take his time because Nico Hoerner was hitting .273 with 11 RBI in 29 games.
"Nico was doing really good," said Simmons, who batted eighth and went 1-for-4. "So I'm like, 'I've got some room to improve. Do I try and jump back in or do I try to keep getting better ... so I'm close to my best?' "
Simmons spent his first four seasons with the Braves and the next five with the Angels. He hit .281 and had a .328 OBP, and also averaged 32 doubles, 10 HRs and 69 RBI per 162 games with the Angles.
Ross knows Simmons well as the two were lockermates with the Braves in 2012.
"Good teammate. Known him a long time," Ross said. "Good baseball instincts -- baseball IQ is really high. He can really help us."
Around the horn:
According to Elias, Willson Contreras became the first Cub since Wildfire Schulte in 1911 to have a grand slam and another extra-base hit in the same inning during a 9-0 win over Pittsburgh on Monday.
Contreras led off the game with a double then hit the grand slam on the first pitch he saw from reliever Bryse Wilson. ... Ian Happ had 2 hits in the first inning Monday, 1 from each side of the plate. He's the first Cub to accomplish that feat since Angel Pagan on Sept. 6, 2006, according to Ed Hartig. ...
David Ross said CF Jason Heyward had "some hydration issues" and "some body stuff" that kept him from starting during Sunday's win over Arizona. Heyward also didn't play against Pittsburgh. "We'll continue to monitor that," Ross said. ... David Ross hopes pitchers Marcus Stroman and David Robertson (both on IL with COVID) can return soon. Ross wasn't sure if Stroman, out since May 8, would need a rehab start before rejoining the rotation.