nomar injured cubsThree of the Cubs’ regulars are healing as well as can be expected at this point, and should be returning to the team within the next month, if all goes well.

Matt Garza, who is recovering from a left lat strain, threw off the mound again on Sunday, the second time since Thursday. This time, he upped his pitch total from 25 to 35, according to Carrie Muskat, and is now expected to have at least two more bullpen sessions before heading out on a minor league rehab assignment. He’s not expected back until mid-May at the earliest, which sounds about right if he’s out for his first rehab start by, say, April 16, and makes four rehab starts (which are partly Spring Training for him).

The very-missed Darwin Barney is expected to have the stitches out of his knee later this week, before taking a game or two to rehab with a minor league team this weekend (Kane County is in Wisconsin this weekend, for what that’s worth). He’s been out since a March 30 exhibition game against the Astros, in which he sliced open his knee. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list on April 15 … which is an offday. So you can look for him to return to the lineup April 16 against the Rangers.

Ian Stewart got into a minor league extended Spring Training game in Arizona yesterday, batting and playing in the field, and went 0-6 with three strikeouts. The numbers don’t matter as much as his ability to run at full strength/speed as he recovers from a quad strain. As of last Friday, Carrie Muskat said Stewart was running at just 80 to 90 percent. Stewart could be getting close to a minor league rehab assignment, which would probably last two or three weeks. Fingers crossed, Stewart could be back by the beginning of May.

There aren’t any updates to report on minor leaguers convalescing, including Junior Lake (broken rib) and Albert Almora (hamate bone removal). Both are expected to be back on the field at some point next month.

  • kgd

    “He’s been out since a May 30 exhibition game against the Astros”

    You meant March, right?

    • Brett

      Ha. Yes. Unless Barney has a time machine, and, if he does, I’d be imploring him to go back in time and hold Steve’s arms to his side.

      • kgd

        Barney is The Doctor! Maybe that’s how he got his Gold Glove, he already knew the play in advance.

        • frank

          Always love a Dr. Who reference!

  • Boogens

    “…Stewart was running at just 80 to 90 percent.”

    That means he’s probably running at about 80 to 90 percent of Vogelbach’s pace. Using the term “speed” in the same sentence as “Stewart” is doing an injustice to slow ballplayers all over the country. 😉

    • Brett

      You’re, right – he’s definitely not a swift guy. But that 10-20% difference could be huge. It’s also being used more as a reflection of his overall health.

  • kgd

    Kinda sad that I’m anxious to have Darwin Barney back not just for his defense but to see what his bat can do in the lineup.

  • Rich

    Hey where is my check? I can go 0-6…

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Lots of talk on this board in the past about trading Barney. Sounds like a good idea, but then you realize, you have to replace him. And as the first week of the season has shown, replacing the things Darwin brings to a club are not that easy. For one thing, he makes those plays in Sundays loss.

  • Grant

    Stewart going 0-6 in a minor league extended spring training game doesn’t give me a whole lot of faith that his batting issues are behind him now that his wrist is better. Admittedly small sample size, but shouldn’t he be doing a lot better than that against that level of competition?

    • Coldneck

      Really, I don’t think it gives an indication one way or the other. Just one game, after all. He may go 3-4 tonight and everyone will be singing his praises for batting .300.

    • Matty

      He should, though he is held back by the fact he is not very good at baseball.

      He is very good at playing video games and watching wrestling on TV, if his myriad of tweets are to be believed.

      • DarthHater

        Should a guy with chronic wrist injuries be playing a lot of video games?

        • cubchymyst

          I feel like there is a joke in there about playing with your joystick to often leading to wrist problems, probably won’t help his eyesight either.

      • Coldneck

        He and Bob Howry would be best buddies.

  • The Dude Abides

    Ian Stewart doesn’t have to be good to play 3B for the Cubs he has to be better than Valbuena, Lillibridge or Gonzalez.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      and I don’t think he would be an upgrade over Valbuena, which shows the state the cubs are in…

  • Jon

    Can we start a pool on when Stewart will eventually go back on the DL?

  • clark addison

    Lillibridge is pathetic. How long till Watkins takes his spot?

  • Timmy

    I just realized that Brett has one of the hardest jobs in baseball blogging: keeping perma-frustrated fans not only placated but invested, speaking to the Cubs’ perma-greedy or incompetent administrative functions while not offending management, and producing multiple well-written and informative articles on a daily basis.

    Brett, the Tribune should hire you to replace the sportswriting scum they currently have writing there.

  • Cubbies4Life

    Minor league rehabs for Garza and Barney? Might any of those be in Iowa? If so, I will don my parka, gloves, and fuzzy hat with the ear flaps and take in a game!

    • Brett

      Unfortunately they often do the rehab assignments this time of year in warmer weather locations. It’s not impossible, though. I’d think Garza, at least, would see a start or two at the AAA level.

  • Die hard

    So with these 3 back record improves to 65 wins… Progress

  • Mike

    The only reason I can see as to why the Cubs would want Ian Stewart back is this: Lillibridge, Gonzalez, Valbuena….none of these guys even remotely look like a third baseman. If you stuck Clevenger out there, at least he looks like a 3rd baseman. Oh, wait, Clevenger might even hit like a 3rd baseman. Nevermind….I know it’s all about defense at 3rd this year, until we get someone who can actually hit…and then defense will be out the door.

  • ChicagoMike702

    Last sentence on Stewart should read: “Fingers crossed, Stewart could be back and playing his terrible brand of baseball by the beginning of May.” 😀

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