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Cubs activate Jason Heyward, place Drew Smyly on 15-day IL

Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward returned to the roster and to the field on Wednesday, as the Cubs took him off the COVID-19 injured list.

With Seiya Suzuki (left ring finger sprain) on IL and rookie Christopher Morel hitting so well and slotting into center field, Heyward started in right field on Wednesday.

“I asked him, was he comfortable there?” said Ross. “And he laughed at me. So I think it’s good.

Heyward won five Golden Gloves as a right fielder. But he moved to center field this year so Suzuki could play on the right.

To make room for Heyward on the 40-man roster, the Cubs recalled Manuel Rodriguez of Triple-A and placed him on the 60-day IL with a strained right elbow. To get a spot on the active roster, they opted for rookie Nelson Velazquez at Triple-A.

Velázquez made his MLB debut on Monday and recorded a hit in every game he played.

“It was great to watch him play,” the Cubs manager said David Ross said. “I told him things early on that stood out to me about his game, and the things that I love and keep working on. We’re trying to build a championship-caliber team here with championship players, and I think he can be a big part of that with the way he’s grown.

Heyward spent about two weeks on COVID-19-related IL. At first, the Cubs thought he was dealing with the effects of dehydration in Arizona.

“I always hydrate all that stuff,” Heyward said. “[Artificial] grass is a different element, but I didn’t realize my body was just letting me know, “There’s something going on right now.”

He said that on returning home that evening, he took a test, which came back positive. So he isolated himself in his basement away from his family. The next day, a series of three tests confirmed his diagnosis.

“That part was tough, of course, not being around a newborn and your wife,” Heyward said.

It paid off. Neither has contracted COVID-19.

From Smyly to IL

Before Wednesday’s game, the Cubs placed the left-hander Drew Smyly (right oblique deformation) on the 15-day IL, retroactive to Tuesday.

“He’s going to be out for a bit,” Ross said, adding that Smyly is feeling better than the imagery suggests. “He’s had a bit of that before and he feels like maybe it’s not that bad. But we will let the coaches do their job.

The Cubs also activated the reliever Michel Rücker (turf toe) from IL 15 days.

The sequence continues

cub recruit Christopher Morel tied on eight pitches in his first game at bat on Wednesday, extending his scoring streak to 15 games. The previous night, he had set the franchise record for the longest streak on base to start a career.

“It’s awesome,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said when he learned Morel broke the record set by Contreras in 2016. “Morel brings the energy. He brings a lot of things to the table. What I like the most is that he is never angry, he never cares about anything. It’s one thing that allows him to play the way he is playing right now. He deserves to stay here.