CLEVELAND — Money proved not to be an obstacle in benching Jason Heyward.
The struggling outfielder, signed to a $184-million deal before the season, found himself on the bench for Game 1 of the World Series, replaced in right by Chris Coghlan.
Heyward, who posted a .230/.306/.325 slash line this season, with seven homers and 49 RBIs, entered the World Series 2-for-28 this postseason, including 1-for-16 in the six-game NLCS.
“Obviously, Jason’s been struggling at the plate,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I love having this guy on the field, he’s one of the best professional athletes I’ve ever been around. For right now, in a short period of time, I just thought CC [Coghlan] might have a better chance to move the baseball offensively and help us grab a lead, then put Heyward in the game in the latter part.”
Maddon repeatedly said he had not lost confidence in the 27-year-old Heyward, a superb defender.
“This doesn’t mean it’s going to look like this for tomorrow,” Maddon said. “This is just for today, for sure.”
Still, it has been a seasonlong struggle at the plate.
“He just has some things to work out from the offensive side with his swing,” Maddon said. “This offseason’s going to be really important for him. But over the course of this next week, I’m certain he’s going to do something to help us win this whole thing.”
Coghlan went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before Willson Contreras pinch hit for him in the seventh inning in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss.
Indians manager Terry Francona wasn’t prepared to name a starter beyond Game 3. Trevor Bauer was slated for Game 2 and Josh Tomlin for Game 3 in Chicago. Francona could go with rookie Ryan Merritt or Danny Salazar, activated for the Series after missing most of September for a forearm injury, or bring back Kluber on short rest.
“We need to wait until everybody pitches,” Francona said. “Because once you do that [bring back Kluber on short rest], then the other guys pretty much have to, too.”
Trying to dodge raindrops
The starting time for Game 2 Wednesday night has been moved up to 7:08 p.m. because of rain in the weather forecast.
Yankees righthander Luis Cessa, expected to compete for a rotation spot next spring, is working for Fox Sports Latin America as an analyst. He has a big fan in none other than catcher Gary Sanchez, who caught some of Cessa’s work earlier this postseason while watching in the Dominican Republic. Sanchez texted Cessa, who admitted to having nerves before hitting the airwaves for the first time, offering encouragement.
“I like it,” Cessa said.