Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero looks to be close to beginning a minor league rehab assignment on his trek back to the team.
If you recall, Montero was originally placed on the 15-day disabled list back on Thursday, April 28 – retroactive to Monday, April 24 – with a sore back.
In his absence, David Ross has picked up a heavier chunk of the catching duties, and AAA catcher Tim Federowicz was called up to pick up the slack. But, despite the solid performance from the Cubs new catching duo, the team is likely itching for a return from their starter.
Montero hit in the batting cages over the weekend and passed all necessary tests. The tentative plan, at the time, was for Montero to hit again yesterday, to see how he felt. Well, despite the rain, Montero did, in fact, take batting practice on the field and also ran the bases (Cubs.com). He is now expected to began a minor league rehab assignment later this week, and there’s a chance he can return by the weekend.
Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register is reporting that Montero is expected to join the AAA Iowa Cubs as soon as today. Birch is usually on the money with this sort of thing (especially as it related to the Iowa Cubs), so I’m willing to bet that he’s right.
Of course, if Montero does go to AAA Iowa, he’ll share time (or like dominate it, for the time being), with top Cubs prospect and top catching prospect in all of baseball, Willson Contreras.
Many consider Contreras to be the Cubs’ catcher of the future, maybe even the very near future, so this would be a great opportunity for the two of them to work together. Although it wouldn’t be the first time these two have played together. If you think back to last August, you’ll recall that Miguel Montero was on the disabled list and took a rehab assignment in AA Tennessee – coincidentally, that’s where Contreras was playing at the time.
When Montero got to see Contreras in person, he was blown away. We wrote about his thoughts on the Cubs breakout catcher here, but they can be summed up by his one, telling classification: “All-Star Major League Catcher.” For what it’s worth, Montero doubled down on those words this Spring, when he got to play with Contreras in Arizona once again.
“He’s very talented,” Montero said of Contreras in the spring, via Carrie Muskat (Cubs.com). “I think he has what it takes to be a big leaguer. I think he could be in the big leagues right now.” Montero later added that the toughest and final obstacle for Contreras will be to learn how to handle a major league pitching staff, but suggests the only way to learn is to do it in the Major Leagues. Perhaps we’ll get there at some point, but for now, Montero will have to impart some more wisdom over the course of 3-5 days in Iowa.
The Iowa Cubs play four straight games against Nashville this week, starting tonight at 6:38 pm CT. The Chicago Cubs, on the other hand, will play tonight against the Padres, followed by a doubleheader on Wednesday, before having an off-day Thursday.
With any luck, Montero will get into some minor league action today through Thursday, and be ready to join the team this weekend when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at home. That’s an aggressive schedule, but Montero hasn’t missed a ton of time, and is likely itching to return. Assuming he’s healthy again, and once he gets his timing back at the plate, the Cubs will be happy to have him back.