The Chicago Cubs have been without center fielder and leadoff man Dexter Fowler since June 19 with a hamstring strain, and his presence has been missed. It will continue to be missed for a little while yet, as Joe Maddon told Cubs.com that the plan is for Fowler to start another rehab assignment early next week, and then return to the big league team late in the week. That could mean another six or seven games without Fowler.
Given the peculiar timing of Dexter Fowler’s previous one-game rehab assignment with the South Bend Cubs and its relationship to the All-Star Game timing, it’s still hard to know whether the new plan for his return to the Cubs represents a “setback” or just the best way to get him back after unsuccessfully trying to see if he could play in the All-Star Game.
You’ll recall, the previous hope was that Fowler would be back with the big league team yesterday, the first game after the All-Star break. Fowler played in one game with South Bend last weekend, decided to sit out the All-Star Game, and now we learn he won’t be back for another week. Notably, when the decision was made for Fowler not to play in the All-Star Game, the Cubs were explicit that there was no setback in his recovery.
So, maybe that was a bit of playing with words, or maybe the goal of getting him ready for the All-Star Game and then a Friday return were always an optimistic timeline. As we’ve said before, hamstring strains are pretty much always a four-week injury, minimum. Ensuring that Fowler is at 100% and not in a position to re-injure himself is of paramount importances right now, even as it’s painful to continue playing without him. The Cubs need Fowler in August, September, and October.