Cody Bellinger headed to the IL with fractured ribs; Chicago Cubs recall Pete Crow-Armstrong from Triple A

Chicago Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger sounded hopeful Tuesday that his collision with the outfield wall wouldn’t cause him to miss much, if any, time.

That optimism did not last long.

Bellinger became the latest Cub to head to the injured list. A CT scan before Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Houston Astros revealed Bellinger has two fractured right ribs and a timeframe for his return is not yet known. He was scheduled to talk to the doctor about his injury’s prognosis, which will provide clarity on how long he might be out of the Cubs’ lineup.

Bellinger, 28, left the Cubs’ 7-2 victory Tuesday against the Astros before the seventh inning. He sustained the injury in the top of the fourth, crashing into the center field wall while trying to catch a Yainer Diaz RBI double.

X-rays were negative Tuesday night, and the team described the injury as a right rib bruise. Bellinger said postgame that he was encouraged by how he felt, describing the dull pain as a good sign. He woke up feeling good Wednesday and even told the Cubs he thought they dodged a bullet. However, the additional imaging revealed the fractures.

Manager Craig Counsell didn’t have an answer Wednesday for whether Bellinger is dealing with a short-term injury, adding that he needs to be symptom-free first as the doctors put together a plan. Bellinger said postgame Tuesday that rotational movement didn’t cause any pain, but it was uncomfortable when he tried to take deep breaths.

Bellinger had just started to get locked in at the plate, going 10-for-30 (.333) with a triple, three home runs and a .412 on-base percentage in his last eight games. With Seiya Suzuki and Bellinger on the IL, the Cubs are without their Nos. 2 and 3 hitters.

“When you lose Seiya, when you lose Cody, players like that, your offense doesn’t improve — it can’t, right?” Counsell said Wednesday. “In short stretches, certainly anything can happen. Frankly what your goal is in those situations is there’s going to be a little bit of a drop-off, but you hope to minimize it as much as you can.

Photos: Chicago Cubs 7, Houston Astros 2

“I do think we’re in that position to maybe minimize their absences a little bit and to cover for them a little bit. … Having two outfielders down tests you even more and we’re going to have to be careful with that.”

Outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong was promoted from Triple-A Iowa to take Bellinger’s roster spot and was expected to arrive shortly before the first pitch. Crow-Armstrong, the organization’s top prospect, was not in the starting lineup Wednesday for Game 2 of the Houston Astros series.

Crow-Armstrong earned his first big-league experience as a September call-up last year, going hitless in 19 plate appearances. But he showed his potential value in the outfield and on the bases in his 13 games, something the Cubs are expected to rely on again while he is up in place of Bellinger.

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Crow-Armstrong is still developing offensively and was off to a slow start in Iowa. He was hitting .203 with a .241 OBP and .633 OPS, striking out 24 times in 19 games. Counsell acknowledged Crow-Armstrong’s results haven’t been great at Triple A this year but that he can still be an effective piece. He will get some starts, though it’s a balance between the development Crow-Armstrong needs with the offensive side and how big-league competition can help that area of his game.

“It may not be on an everyday basis here, but there’s still things to learn,” Counsell said. “The priority is going to be winning games and we’ll put him in spots that hopefully can help us do that.

“Pete’s here because of injuries and when these guys get healthy there’s probably not going to be a spot for him. (From the development) perspective, we’re probably taking a timeout.”

Bellinger joins five other Cubs from the big-league roster on the IL: ace Justin Steele (left hamstring strain), starter Kyle Hendricks (lower back strain), relievers Julian Merryweather (rib stress fracture) and Drew Smyly (right hip impingement) and right fielder Seiya Suzuki (right oblique strain). Starter Jameson Taillon and slugger Patrick Wisdom were out for the first three weeks of the season recovering from their respective injuries they sustained in spring training.

Bellinger missed 26 games last season after jumping at the right-center-field wall against the Astros on May 15 in Houston. He suffered a left knee bruise when he came down on the padded lip of the wall cutout after making the catch and then hyperextended his leg on the landing.