In addition to Kyle Schwarber, the Cubs have been playing (and winning) without their starting catcher, Miguel Montero, and multi-useful fourth/fifth outfielder, Matt Szczur, for quite some time now.
If you recall, Montero was originally placed on the disabled list with a sore back on Thursday, April 28, although it was retroactive to Monday, April 24, the last time he played. Montero was replaced on the roster by Tim Federowicz, who has since split time with David Ross behind the plate.
Szczur, on the other hand was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury back on May 3, and was replaced on the Major League roster by AAA outfielder Ryan Kalish.
It’s been a tough start to the season – injury-wise – for the Cubs (which makes their absurd start all the more incredible), but I’m happy to note that there appears to be good news on both fronts.
According to Carrie Muskat (Cubs.com), Miguel Montero hit in the Cubs batting cages on Sunday and passed all necessary tests. The plan, for now, is for him to hit again today and see how he feels. If all goes well, he could come back as soon as Tuesday, which is the first day he is eligible to return from the disabled list. There has been no indication yet that any minor league rehab time will be necessary, as he has missed just 11 games in total. Of course, it depends on how soon Montero actually returns. We’ll see how things go today.
Before being placed on the disabled list, Montero was slashing .208/.316/.333 with a 14.0% walk rate and a 28.1% strike out rate. Upon Montero’s return, Tim Federowicz will likely be sent back to AAA Iowa.
In the same report, Carrie Muskat also mentions Matt Szczur and his expected path back to the majors. Szczur also hit in the batting cages on Sunday, and is reportedly making progress toward a return. To be certain, there is still some time left for Ryan Kalish to enjoy his time at the Major League level, because Szczur is not eligible to return from the DL until Wednesday, May 18. Like Montero, a minor league rehab stint may not be necessary, but it depends on how he’s feeling and if he misses more time than the minimum 15 days. Hamstring injuries, even minor ones like Szczur reportedly sustained, can be tricky.
Before being placed on the disabled list, Szczur was having a (small-sample, early-season) breakout at the Major League level. Through his 34 plate appearances (mostly off the bench), Szczur slashed .367/.441/.600 with identical 11.8% strikeout/walk rates. Although it is less certain than the Federowicz/Montero situation, I strongly suspect Kalish will be sent back to AAA Iowa upon Szczur’s return. There is some time for Kalish to change the minds of the front office (and he certainly has it it in him to do so), but Szczur does seem to be the preferred fourth/fifth outfielder (depending on who is starting that day), and Jorge Soler has yet to complicate that situation more fully.