Cubs keeping Florida in their thoughts

Bryant making start in left field; Arrieta feeling good after playing catch

Cubs keeping Florida in their thoughts

CHICAGO -- At least one television in the Cubs' clubhouse was tuned to The Weather Channel on Sunday as players with family and friends in Florida watched Hurricane Irma's progress. Catcher Alex Avila has a home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and he was getting updates.

"All morning, I've been getting texts from friends and family about their status down there," said Avila.

"The whole area where I'm at has lost power. As far as anything else, that's really the extent of it. People have lost power, and it's been a lot of trees flying around."

Avila's home was in a mandatory evacuation area, and his family was able to get to Chicago safely. Anthony Rizzo was monitoring video outside his Florida home, which was more inland, and he could see the heavy rain and high winds blowing the palm trees.

Albert Almora Jr.'s family decided to stay in the Miami area and hunker down. Manager Joe Maddon's wife, Jaye, was able to leave Tampa with their two dogs and cat and drive north, hopefully out of harm's way.

"You prepare as best you can," Avila said. "I grew up there. You know what to do. Once you do that, once you prepare, you just cross your fingers."

All of the Floridians were looking forward to next week when the Cubs are scheduled to play the Rays in Tampa Bay on Sept. 19-20.

Worth noting

Kyle Schwarber has not started the past three Cubs games against the Brewers, and Maddon said that's because their scouting department likes the matchups better with others in the mix. Kris Bryant started in left field on Sunday, his first start in the outfield since June 26.

Schwarber's solo home run

"I want to match it up as well as I can," Maddon said. "It's not June or July, it is September. We're trying to do the best we can to match up versus their pitchers. It's not just about Kyle, it's about everybody, and [Schwarber] gets it."

Schwarber came off the bench and hit his 25th home run on Saturday in the Cubs' 15-2 loss to the Brewers. He is batting .250 (4-for-16) in seven games this month.

Jake Arrieta, whose status is uncertain after he strained his right hamstring last Monday in Pittsburgh, played catch on Sunday, and he said all went well. He is scheduled to be re-evaluated on the off-day Monday. The Cubs have yet to announce the rotation for their weekend series against the Cardinals, which begins Friday.

• Good luck to all the fantasy football participants enjoying the start of the NFL season on Sunday. Maddon is not a participant any more.

"It was ruining my Sundays," Maddon said. "I started worrying about the wrong things. I stopped doing all that stuff. Fantasy football was great in the beginning, but then it was the worst. I could not enjoy football any more, so I stopped doing that."

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.