No productive major leaguer ever wants to be sent down to the minor leagues, especially one on a winning team. The Chicago Cubs are having an amazing season, owning the best record in baseball at 76-43. They are being led by MVP contenders Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but this is a team sport. Rizzo and Bryant will get all the accolades, but bench players and glue guys also play major roles in a team’s success.
Infielder Tommy La Stella was recently sent to the minor leagues by the Cubs. The demotion wasn’t caused by a lack of production, as he is batting an impressive .295 with a .846 OPS in 51 games this season. The Cubs had to make room on their active roster once they activated outfielder Chris Coghlan off the disabled list. The front office chose La Stella because he still has minor league options left and didn’t have to clear waivers.
La Stella did not accept the demotion with open arms. The 27-year old contemplated retirement after he was optioned for the minor leagues. La Stella didn’t announce a retirement, but also did not report to the minor league affiliate. Instead, La Stella optioned to go home and keep in shape in New Jersey.
La Stella has said he has no hard feelings towards the Cubs saying,
“It’s a reflection of where I am in my life and my career. I told them ‘I know you have a business decision to make. I completely understand where they’re coming from. I don’t fault them for making that choice one bit. They’re doing what’s in the best interest of the team. I understand that 100 percent.”
After a week of uncertainty, La Stella decided to report to the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate in Tennessee. When rosters expand to the 40-man on September 1st, La Stella for sure will be back with the Cubs. As for him refusing to immediately report to the minor leagues, there’s two ways you can go about it. You can criticize La Stella for not living up to his contract and not acting like a professional. The other side of the coin is that he believes he is a big part of the Cubs team and doesn’t want to miss time with his teammates.
Since the Cubs are in the middle of a dominating season, this story will probably disappear fairly quickly, especially if Anthony Rizzo keeps on making circus catches. I would be surprised if La Stella wasn’t on the playoff roster, but we have over 40 games of baseball before we get to that point.
For those wondering, La Stella started in Tennessee on Wednesday night and got on base twice before being removed when he was plunked on the ankle by a pitch. Hopefully that early exit was just a precaution but it seemed he was doing well while still playing.
— Evan Ellis (@EvanCEllis) August 18, 2016
With Chris Coghlan on the disabled list, it seems that if La Stella can get back on track and healthy, he is one phone call away from rejoining his teammates at Wrigley.