The Cubs have a number of key players working their way back from injuries, and we could be seeing them once the calendar flips to September …
- Jon Lester threw 47 pitches in a simulated game yesterday, facing – and pitching to – Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber. GM Jed Hoyer told CSN Lester looked comfortable and competitive, frustrated with himself when he didn’t execute a pitch (a sign that he’s feeling good physically). Lester has missed a couple starts after suffering some lat tightness and general shoulder fatigue.
- For now, Lester is due to throw a side session tomorrow (Mooney), and they could wait for that to make a decision on how to proceed, or they could just ask Lester how he feels today:
Hoyer said a decision on whether Lester needs rehab start or will rejoin the rotation will be based largely on how he feels Tuesday
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) August 28, 2017
- Lester hasn’t missed a ton of time, is an established veteran, and is not coming off of a serious injury. If he prefers to just slide back into the rotation, I’m sure the Cubs would be willing to go that route, but saving bullets for October is a balance for the Cubs. The nice thing for the Cubs is that, no matter when Lester returns, it will be after rosters expand, and they won’t have to make a 25-man roster move to accommodate him.
- It was good to hear that Contreras was hitting and catching in the game against/with Lester. He’s been doing a number of baseball activities as he recovers from his hamstring strain, and the target has long been a mid-September return. Minor league games end in about a week, so it might not be possible for him to get in a minor league rehab assignment before then. In that case, he’ll simply have to get back up to game speed in simulated games like yesterday’s. Although he’ll get right back into the starting mix when he’s ready, the Cubs have the luxury of taking it easy on Contreras down the stretch now that they have a catcher who mashes righties (Alex Avila), a catcher who plays good defense and hits lefties well (Rene Rivera), and a rookie who could see some time if the Cubs pull far enough ahead in the race (Victor Caratini).
- Addison Russell started his long-awaited rehab assignment at Iowa last night, and naturally, he crushed the first pitch he saw to the opposite field gap:
- Russell went 1-3 on the night with that double, and he struck out once. He left the game early, but I’m going to assume that was pre-planned, given his extended absence. Don’t be shocked if the Cubs take it easy with his return, and give him today off to see how things feel the day after game action.
- Justin Grimm was also sent to Iowa after a finger infection, and he appeared last night: 1.0 innings pitched, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 1 solo homer.