For as much “good health” as the Cubs had last season, the opposite has been true in so far in 2017.
Most notably, they’ve been without their starting right fielder Jason Heyward, second baseman Ben Zobrist, and starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks (among others) for quite a while now, and have been without shortstop Addison Russell on an on-and-off basis.
Each of The Chicago Tribune (Mark Gonzalez), MLB.com (Carrie Muskat), and CSN Chicago (Patrick Mooney) have updates on the status of these players, so let’s check back in on their progress to see what’s going on and when we might expect each to return.
- Let’s start with Jason Heyward, who’s currently on the 10-day disabled list with a cut on his left hand. Unfortunately, on Monday, Heyward suggested that he still needs time to heal, and that he’s not even at the point where he can take full batting practice/swing every day. And until he gets to that point, Heyward suggested, he won’t even be thinking of coming off the disabled list. That means that, no, he won’t likely come off the DL on Thursday, the first day he’s eligible, which is a pretty big bummer.
- Heyward did manage to hit off a tee for the first time on Monday, but once again added that he’s just not ready to get back into action. “It’s healing, but I can feel every movement in my hand because it’s tender, because there’s new skin there,” Heyward said. For an injury that’s reportedly comparable to a third degree burn, you might expect Heyward to take some more time before being ready to swing a wood bat too many times. Whenever he’s ready, Heyward may need a minor league rehab stint.
- As expected, Addison Russell didn’t start in last night’s game, as he continues to deal with a sore shoulder that’s followed him for much of this season. He did manage to sneak in for a pinch hit opportunity (which is a good sign), but he was not able to remain in the game at shortstop for obvious reasons. For what it’s worth, Joe Maddon doesn’t seem too concerned, and just thinks his young shortstop needs some time: “It’s not serious, but I don’t want to push it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We just have to get him on a steady diet of rehab, like a maintenance program. If we do that, we’ll have no more issues.”
- Hopefully, Russell gets onto a program that helps prevent this issue from recurring, because while each individual flare up may not be serious or long-lasting, multiple flare ups in the same season will be detrimental to his overall production and development. I doubt Russell starts tonight, but he should once again be available off the bench.
- Let’s get some good news, shall we? Ben Zobrist, who’s been on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his left wrist, worked out on Monday and reportedly felt good. In fact, Joe Maddon suggested that if his work out goes similarly well today, “there might be some action.” It’s unlikely Zobrist will return to the big league team before a minor league rehab stint, and he’ll probably need to take a fair bit of batting practice to confirm the wrist is feeling good before that. In any case, feeling good is good.
- And finally, Kyle Hendricks, who’s been out with right hand tendinitis, also has some good news to report: after playing catch over the weekend and taking yesterday off, he’s expected to resume his throwing today. That’s not a huge bright light, of course, but it does suggest that he’ll be ramping up and that there were no new or unexpected setbacks.
- Mike Montgomery has been pitching well in the rotation, and even Eddie Butler had a capable start against the Nationals yesterday, but make no mistake: this team needs a healthy and productive Kyle Hendricks this season. He’ll eventually be back, and hopefully when he returns it’s for good.