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nomar injured cubsAlthough there are certainly teams dealing with worse injury issues than the Cubs (particularly given that the Cubs weren’t expected to be any good anyway), and although some of the Cubs’ injury issues were to be expected, it’s hard to argue that things don’t look more dim now than they did six weeks ago. Even from a “flip first” perspective, the injuries to Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Ian Stewart are all a mighty boot in the groin. How are things looking for their respective recoveries? And what about Brett Jackson, who’s been out for over a week with totally-minor, not-at-all-a-concern shoulder inflammation?

  • There is no setback to report with respect to Garza, so that’s good, I suppose. But he’s not scheduled for a bullpen session until the first week of April, which, unless it’s April 1, is going to be a handful of days later than the 7 to 10 day estimate we were told it would take to get him back on the mound just a few days ago. I know there’s a lot of guess work involved in the recovery of a guy with a lat injury – who is also returning from a serious, long-term elbow injury – but it seems like, at every turn, the Garza injury updates are just a touch off from what we were told the last time (which was a touch off from what we were told the last time (which was a touch off from what we were told the last time)). You would be crazy to expect Garza back any time before mid-May at this point.
  • I’m sure it’s just as frustrating for Garza – moreso, actually – but I can’t stop thinking about the flurry of updates on his progress … he’ll be full go once Spring Training starts … he’ll be back in a week … he’ll be ready by Opening Day … he’ll probably start later that first week of the season, but will avoid the DL … he’ll start the season on the DL, but should be back when those 15 days are up … he’ll probably be back late April … he’ll probably be back early May …
  • The sliver of good news on Baker is that his current elbow strain is more related to the muscle than it is related to the ligament that was replaced during his Tommy John surgery. That’s not to say the injury is unconnected to his rehab, obviously, but at least there isn’t an immediate concern that his surgery failed or will require an additional procedure. Right now, the best case scenario – as far as I can see it – has Baker resuming throwing at the end of April, continuing his rehab and strengthening process over the ensuing six weeks, and returning to big league game action in mid-June. Is that enough time for him to establish trade value by late July if he’s dominant? Let’s just say I’m not really thinking in those terms with him. Hopefully he returns healthy and effective as soon as possible, and maybe a team-friendly extension starts to look like a good idea. That’s where my head’s at with him.
  • Ian Stewart’s injury progress – or lack thereof – has been lost in the pitching shuffle, but he keeps getting pushed back, too. It was already known that he was going to have to start the season on the DL after a “mild” quad strain has kept him out of action for the entirety of the Cactus League schedule, but now we learn that he won’t even start a rehab assignment until mid-April at the earliest. Since he’ll have had no game action in Spring Training, he’s going to need a couple weeks of that before returning, which means early May is the best case scenario at this point. And we still don’t know how his surgically repaired wrist is going to hold up.
  • And finally, the best news of the bunch goes to Brett Jackson and his shoulder, which has kept him out of action for other a week. It hasn’t prevented him from hitting, but the soreness is in his throwing shoulder, so the Cubs have thought it best to rest him (since he’s headed to Iowa to start the season anyway). Jackson is expected to resume games this week, but they might be of the minor league variety – which is to say Jackson could be “cut” at some point soon.
  • For his part, Dale Sveum sounds the most bummed about the Garza injury, because it disrupted the rotation, which was shaping up to be the one bright spot on the team.
  • JR

    I am not worried at all about Garza. He’s shown a great ability to return from injuries quickly………………………………………….

  • King Jeff

    At this point, I’m almost expecting a lost season for Garza and hoping the Cubs can get him on a “prove it” contract for a few million next year.

  • Demarrer

    Don’t forget about Arodys Vizcaíno Brett. I believe I heard he was throwing off the mound now with no setbacks whatsoever. He’s arguably the most important player of this entire injury bunch.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yup – he’s throwing off the mound, but still taking it easy. No breaking stuff, and he’s going to start the year on the 60-day DL (I assume).

  • Mr. Gonzo

    Brett, you continue to pump out outstanding content on an ever-expanding editorial calendar, and it’s only Spring Training still! We really need you at full strength for Opening Day and on… no days off. An unexpected carpal flair-up, aggressive pointing injury, or losing your (editorial) voice while screaming hysterically about a potential Figgins signing could lead to devastating temporary lack of quality Cubs fodder. This could be a serious problem for us loyal readers. I hope you are taking good care of those writing elbows! Keep up the good work.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. Thanks. Pathetically, I did suffer a wrist injury last Summer thanks to a combination of laptop touch-pad usage and tennis. Seriously.

      But I didn’t miss a game. I’m Cal Ripken, Jr.

  • OCCubFan

    As you say, it is extremely unlikely Baker can build “flippable” value by the trading deadline. So then the best-case is that he is really good for the last 3 months of season, but then he is likely to have raised his value on the free-agent market, thus making a Cub-friendly deal unlikely.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      Yeah. He either pitches himself out of a friendly deal or he’s not worth re-signing.

      Either way, I think we rolled the dice and lost, and that’s that. He’ll be 31 next year coming off multiple elbow injuries. Cut the line and move on.

      • JR

        Hopefully when Baker comes back he is dominant in bullpen sessions and terrible when he pitches in games:). Just enough so the Cubs can see he has a chance next year, and bad enough to scare off other teams. I doubt anyone is going to spend much on Baker next year anyway. So whatever I guess..

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        “He either pitches himself out of a friendly deal or he’s not worth re-signing.”

        Do you think that’s maybe just a touch too far? If he puts up a 3.50 ERA over the final three months, with his usual K/BB and decent stuff, he’s not going to land some four-year deal coming off a lost season and a half. He’s also not going to have to settle for a minor league deal. That’s easily the kind of guy who would be trying hard to find a two-ish year deal, and may or may not have success. Indeed, he might have to settle for a one-year, one-option deal with the team that gave him a shot while he was recovering.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

          Not interested in a 1+1 on a guy coming off multiple elbow injuries at age 31.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            In the scenario I just set up, I would drool over such a guy. (At, like $5M for 2014, and, let’s say, $7.5M option for 2015.)

          • another JP

            “Not interested in a 1+1 on a guy coming off multiple elbow injuries at age 31.”

            Sure, unless he plays for your beloved St. Louis Cardinals, isnt’ that right? You go around all these Cub forums on the internet bashing our team and slobbering all over the Cardinal FO, but you totally ignore the fact their management makes many of the same moves the Cubs do right now. How about when the Cards signed an injured Chris Carpenter to a 5 yr./$63.5M at the end of 2007? Dude was 32, injured, and got over $12M AAV after only two good seasons at St. Louis. Look at Carpenter’s AL numbers and explain how they’re superior to Baker– they aren’t. And you don’t want to consider a 31 yr. old. Baker whose going to have a setback of several months at a 1 yr./$5.5M?

            Why don’t you learn something about baseball before you spend time trolling around all day?

            • cubfanincardinalland

              Cardinals are paying Carpenter 12 million and Furcal 7 million this season, not to play one game. They gave Motte a guaranteed two year deal for 12 million, now he is out with elbow troubles. Freese is constantly hurt, now its his back. They are paying Beltran 13 million this season, he is out with his toe, you can usually count on him for 90 games a year. Garcia had a torn labrum last fall, it has magically healed, he is on the hook for 6 mil. this year.
              But the Cardinals are genius, don’t you know. That wasn’t the greatest choke job in baseball against the Giants, that was just bad luck.

              • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                That choke job cost them a shot at their third World Series championship in 7 years. What idiots.

            • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

              Your “here’s what you would have said” arguments are tired and do not reflect well on you. The Carpenter comp is a relevant point, though I disagree with it. It didn’t need to be packaged in the flailing personal attacks.

  • Jono

    I know this is completely an emotion reaction, but I’d love it if we didn’t have to read about Garza until he’s either back on the mound at Wrigley or there’s some extension agreed upon. I’m just so sick of hearing about him (which has nothing to do with your bloggin, Brett. You’ve been doing a great job. It’s just out of frustration on my part.)

    Normally my spring optimism lasts through the start of the regular season. But this year it’s fading away faster than usual. Maybe it’s the injuries? Maybe team USA losing in the second round of the WBC?

    • willis

      It’s the frustration of a broken record talking here. And we’re all there. We’ve seen this show play out so many times in the last decade + that it’s tiresome and annoying. So we all fire away emotionally and get fed up real quickly.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I would, too, if I could.

  • OCCubFan

    Players, managers, & front office people of all teams seem to be eternal optimists.
    “Although Smith’s arm fell off yesterday, it’s just a minor setback. We’ll just sew his arm back on and he’ll be at full strength within a week.”
    “Jones got a couple of minor bruises when he ran into the wall yesterday, he’ll be fine. We’ll rest him a few days and replace his knee just as a precautionary measure.”

    • dumbledoresacubsfan

      Brett, install a “Like” button on the site, please. For the love of all that is Holy, this comment was awesome.

  • Jeff

    Brett,

    What is our financial obligations to Baker? I’m assuming that we on the hook for all of his 5.5M salary.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes. He also has $1.5 million in incentives, which I suspect he’s now unlikely to reach. I doubt he’ll be out long enough for insurance to kick in (which is a subject rarely discussed, as an aside).

      • Jeff

        Last I had heard the insurance companies were backing away from insuring contracts that payed salaries of injured players. Not sure where the cutoff exists, I think the article was referring to the mega deals, wonder how it works on smaller deals.

  • Spencer

    Almora? Lake?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No update.

      • Spencer

        No news might be good news with them I guess. It’s frustrating that once guys have been injured this year it seems like a bunch of the beat writers and stuff say “oh, he’s day-to-day” or “he’s just out a few days”. It makes these constant stream of updates saying that they’ll be out longer than expected harder to swallow.

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