Albert Almora Jr. Exits Game After Hurting Ribs, Returns to Hit RBI Single

The first rule of intrasquad scrimmages is that there are no rules, which is kind of how it has to work when you’ve got members of the same team squaring off against one another. The manager can set up different situations and have players bat out of order, all of which we’ve seen — well, we haven’t really seen them, have we? — so far in the first week of Cubs Summer Camp.

Friday was no exception, as the lineups were uneven and Anthony Rizzo again watched from the bleachers. There was even a point at which a player got hurt and left the game only to return almost immediately. Albert Almora Jr. ran into the brick wall hard while trying to make a play on a Kris Bryant hit to deep center, then crumpled to the ground in obvious pain.

Pay no attention to the name of the pitcher on the mound at the time because we’ve got another post coming about why there’s reason for optimism about Craig Kimbrel‘s season.

In any case, Almora was attended to by the training staff as David Ross and several Cubs looked on. He eventually left the field under his own power and was replaced in center by Steven Souza Jr., after which the Cubs said Almora was day to day with a mild left rib bruise.

But since time really holds no sway during the pandemic, a day ended up being just a few minutes. To the surprise of the beat writers in attendance, Almora strolled out to the on-deck circle the very next inning and ended up smacking an 0-2 offering from Jharel Cotton for an RBI single. He even made a play in center after returning to the field.

I suppose this is where I could write something about toughness or perseverance, especially since even superficial rib injuries can be really painful. As someone who’s only now getting over the effects of bruised ribs three weeks after the fact, I can attest to the pain that comes with rotational movement in particular.

Whether the injury was really that minor or Almora has a high pain tolerance, I don’t know. I’d like to think it’s a really good sign, a ray of sunshine after a season in which it seemed as though a dark cloud was hovering over him. Nothing was the same for Almora from the moment his foul liner struck a young girl in the stands in Houston, perhaps because he wasn’t able to shake off the anguish he felt in the wake of the incident.

While I’m sure a few macho dude-bros out there will disagree, baseball is largely a mental game in which the slightest imbalance can push a player into a slump and keep him there for a long time. That’s what appears to have happened to Almora last year, though it’s fair to note that he had been scuffling at the plate well before that tragic foul ball.

The Cubs have more than enough depth in the outfield to make due even if Almora never reaches the potential that made him Theo Epstein’s first draft pick with the organization, but producing at a league-average level sure would be nice. That’s what he did over his first two seasons, posting wRC+ marks of 101 and 104 in somewhat limited action. Having the DH will free up a little more playing time, so getting back to those numbers would give the Cubs a major boost over the 64 wRC+ Almora managed last season.

Look, it’d be foolish to make a big deal out of one play in a scrimmage that means less than nothing at the end of the day. It would also be foolish to dismiss Almora’s potential, though that ship may have already sailed for the most part. In addition to moving past the psychological trauma of last year, he claims to be more mentally prepared in general and has revamped his swing yet again.

“I feel more organized,” Almora said back in February. “I feel like I know what I gotta do myself to get ready, and that’s really it for me.”

Can it be that it was all so simple? There’s no way to know for certain yet, but I’ll continue to carry a torch for Almora until such time as something comes along to snuff it out for good.

Back to top button