His timing was good in August, too. The Iowa team was in Sacramento, but Almora had been bothered by a bruised left thumb, injured when he slid into third base and then aggravated after a catch. The Cubs wanted him to see a hand specialist in Chicago. After he landed at O'Hare, Almora sent a text to his wife to let her know he was headed to their apartment.
"Ten minutes later, she called me back and said, 'My water broke,'" he said.
He got to the hospital in time for the birth of his first child, son Ayden John.
"I was happy I was there," he said. "It was awesome."
Now he's hoping to show enough to secure a spot on the playoff roster.
"He knows he can do this," manager Joe Maddon said of Almora, who appeared in 34 games in his earlier callup.
• Maddon won't talk about the playoffs until the Cubs actually secure a spot, and when pressed about the makeup of the bullpen for the postseason, he said it will depend on who they're facing.
"When you get to that point, you have to consider who you're playing and what the composition of that team looks like," Maddon said. "We'll have a lot of difficult decisions to make based on versatility and how good a lot of our guys are. This is Sept. 6. You've got plenty of time to worry about stuff like that. I haven't dwelled anything on that."
• Infielder Munenori Kawasaki was called up from Iowa along with Almora, and he was asked what he'd been working on with the Minor League team.
"English and Spanish," Kawasaki said. "Baseball is easy."
Kawasaki quickly became a favorite of Maddon's in Spring Training, and Maddon gave him a high-five when he got on the team bus on Tuesday.
"It felt like he never left -- we're BFFs," Maddon said.
• Where did Javier Baez learn to make that snap tag at second base to get baserunners? He said a coach taught him the move when he was 12 and playing in Puerto Rico. The key is to act as if the ball isn't coming and deke the runner.
"I got what he was saying, and not everybody got it," Baez said. "I started doing it and doing it and got better and better. I would get to the bag, and stand there, and at the last second get it."
• The Cubs named Class A Myrtle Beach infielder David Bote and right-hander Trevor Clifton as their Minor League player and pitcher of the month for August, respectively.
Bote, 23, hit .367 with 12 doubles, two triples, one homer, 22 runs scored and 16 RBIs in 26 games. He posted a .439 OBP and led all Cubs Minor Leaguers in average and runs scored during the month. An 18th-round pick in 2012, he is in his fifth professional season with the Cubs.
Myrtle Beach opens a best-of-three playoff series against Salem on Wednesday.
Clifton, 21, went 2-0 with a 0.85 ERA, giving up three earned runs over 31 2/3 innings in five August starts. He struck out 34 and walked five in that stretch.
This season with the Pelicans, Clifton went 7-7 with a 2.72 ERA in 23 starts. He struck out an organizational-best 129 batters and walked 41. He was a 12th-round pick in the 2013 Draft.