How Alexander Canario’s freak damage additional complicates the Chicago Cubs’ center-field choices and offseason strategy


The sequence was eerily acquainted.

Chicago Cubs prospect Alexander Canario awkwardly hit first base and went down arduous throughout a Dominican Winter League recreation two weeks in the past. The subsequent damage to the 22-year-old outfielder — a fractured left ankle and separated left shoulder — was harking back to how infield prospect Ed Howard’s season led to mid-May.

Howard awkwardly tried to keep away from a tag on an errant throw to first base and landed in a heap past the bag. The Cubs’ 2020 first-round decide fractured his left hip on the play.

Howard is rehabbing on the workforce’s advanced in Mesa, Ariz., and the Cubs hope he’ll start gentle baseball actions after Thanksgiving, vp of participant growth Jared Banner mentioned Monday on the common supervisor conferences.

Canario additionally faces a prolonged restoration from his freak damage. He had surgical procedure final week in Chicago on his ankle and can bear one other surgical procedure this week on his shoulder. The process would be the second on Canario’s left shoulder; a torn labrum was repaired in November 2020 after he dislocated the shoulder whereas within the San Francisco Giants group.

Canario received’t be prepared for the beginning of the 2023 season. There is not any timetable past that for his return.

“These guys put a lot of work in, especially in Canario’s case,” Banner mentioned. “He had a really amazing season in many respects, and to see him go down like that, it hurt us all. It was devastating to him as well.”

The Arizona Fall League offered a chance for outfielder Brennen Davis to realize priceless at-bats after lacking greater than three months due to again ache and ensuing surgical procedure to cauterize a vascular malformation that pushed towards a nerve.

Davis’ AFL expertise ended after 5 video games and 21 plate appearances due to what Banner described as “general soreness.” He added that the Cubs don’t consider the problem pertains to Davis’ earlier sciatic ache.

Davis is near 100%, and Banner expects him to be full go by the beginning of spring coaching.

“I don’t want to speculate, but whenever you have to take that much time off from physical activity, it can make returning a little bit bumpy and nonlinear,” Banner mentioned.

Canario’s accidents and prolonged restoration together with Davis’ misplaced season are a blow to the Cubs’ choices in heart subject and, by extension, the offseason avenues they might pursue to improve the roster.

Although they anticipate Canario can be again in video games someday subsequent season, it could be troublesome to confidently challenge him to contribute within the huge leagues in 2023. It’s a disappointing growth for each the participant and workforce after Canario slugged his manner via three ranges this yr to succeed in Triple A for the primary time.

Canario, acquired for Kris Bryant on the 2021 commerce deadline, led all Cubs minor-leaguers with 37 residence runs whereas posting a .343 on-base share this yr and figured to play an necessary function in 2023. He may have been utilized in an offseason commerce to enhance one other space of the roster — as prime prospect and heart fielder Pete Crow-Armstrong looms — or earned taking part in time in heart whereas offering energy within the lineup.

A totally wholesome Davis getting into spring coaching would quell some considerations, particularly after having three months to proceed increase. Davis generally is a dynamic outfielder, and he turned 23 initially of November.

Game expertise issues, and Davis wants extra of it. Since debuting in 2018, he has tallied 906 plate appearances in 4 minor-league seasons with 558 above High A. That contains 174 at Triple-A Iowa in 2022, when he was coping with the again ache that originally arose throughout spring coaching.

Davis appeared on monitor to debut within the majors this yr and maybe solidify the Cubs center-field job. Instead, there are solely extra questions.

The Cubs have amassed extra minor-league depth and high-ceiling expertise the final two seasons, creating a chance to money in a few of their prospect capital for a confirmed big-leaguer. But the damage blows are vital and will have an effect on the offseason roster-building imaginative and prescient.

Now the Cubs should wait to realize readability on how Davis, Canario, Howard and catcher Miguel Amaya — who was unable to play within the AFL due to a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot — would possibly match into their plans for subsequent yr and past.



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