NL Central Notes: Happ, Cardinals, Sims, Solano, Castillo, Minor

Cubs left fielder Ian Happ was removed from today’s 9-0 win over the Brewers after being hit in the left kneecap by a Trevor Gott pitch during the seventh inning. X-rays were negative, as Happ told NBC Sports Chicago’s Tim Stebbins and other reporters after the game. “It’s going to be pretty stiff [Sunday]I’m sure, but right now it’s not too bad, ”Happ said. It would seem as if Happ is questionable for tomorrow’s lineup, and since the Cubs do not play on Monday, Happ has some more time to heal up and receive further treatment to determine if an IL trip could be necessary.

The Cubs / Brewers series has thus far seen seven batters hit by pitches over two games, which has some a frequent occurrence in recent meetings between the two division rivals. The result was a skirmish that saw both benches and bullpens empty after Andrew McCutchen was hit by a Keegan Thompson pitch in the eighth inning, but ultimately nothing but harsh words were exchanged.

More from the NL Central…

  • Busch Stadium is known as a pitcher-friendly ballpark, and the Cardinals have added to this built-in run suppression by creating a tremendous defensive roster. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examines, the club has embraced this to the point of deciding against moving in the walls at their ballpark, even after commissioning a study to examine the possible impact. “We started to think we may have an edge here with this particular configuration, ”Chairman Bill DeWitt III said. “In theory, a bigger ballpark, more balls in play, a defense that catches anything – why don’t we put this on ice and see how things develop? We have an elite defense and we’re contemplating doing something that might minimize the impact of that defense. Let’s not. ” Goold’s piece breaks down some of the findings of the study, with the Cards looking at how potential alterations to any of the dimensions would affect everything from fan experience to on-field performance.
  • Reds manager David Bell provided reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) with several updates on injured players over the last two days. Lucas Sims is on pace to head to Triple-A this week after throwing a live BP session at the extended extended Spring Training camp, and Bell set April 20 or 22 as the target dates for Sims’ likely return. Donovan Solano is out with a left hamstring injury, but Boone said Solano has been doing some running drills and even took some swings during some simulated game sessions.
  • Mike Minor and Luis Castillo both began the season on the IL due to shoulder soreness, and while Castillo was initially thought to have the quicker return of the two, Minor has now seemingly moved ahead after throwing a 35-pitch simulated game on Friday. Minor could now be ready for Triple-A work or at least another sim game, while Castillo still has to get a second bullpen session under his belt. In terms of projections, the Reds are now aiming for Castillo to be back by late April, while Minor could make his debut closer to the middle of the month.

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