The Chicago Cubs are dealing with a whole host of injuries to key players right now – particularly in the bullpen (Kimbrel, Kintzler, Cishek … Morrow?) – but there are some updates, and, for the most part, they’re the kind that’ll bring a tentative smile to your face.
Unfortunately it’s not a uniformly positive update. There is an exception. And I think you already know who it is.
- According to Joe Maddon all reports on the Cubs horde of “walking wounded” were “positive.” HOWEVER, that particular update apparently does not apply to Brandon Morrow, for whom there is nothing new to discuss. Normally, a non-update on Morrow would be par for the course, but after another procedure on his arm, he was feeling uncharacteristically optimistic and vocal about a potential return (Aug 6): “With the way I’m feeling, I expect to progress quickly,” Morrow said. “I guess not more than a month away from being back.”
- At the time, the plan was to throw from a mound at the Cubs Spring Training complex in Arizona, but it’s difficult to say if and when those throws actually happened, let alone how well they went. The optimist in me wants to point out that the Cubs have been particularly quiet about all news Morrow (even when it’s been positive), and it’s not like this was bad news (it was just no news), but I just don’t see why we’d put ourselves through that line of logic when another week has passed with no positive update. I mean, think about it: there’s only a couple weeks left of Minor League games by which he could get himself ready for The Show. So if he’s not back to game speed within, say, a week, I can’t see him having enough time to make it back this year (he hasn’t pitched competitively since last July).
- I’m eternally optimistic, but the most I can give you today is: Hope for the best, but extremely expect nothing at all. Now onto the actually positive news.
- The Chicago Sun Times reports (per Joe Maddon) that Craig Kimbrel (knee), Brandon Kintzler (pec), and Steve Cishek (hip) have all made progress, and “it’s all encouraging” as of now.
- Specifically, Kintzler threw from a mound for the second time on Tuesday and “expects to return when eligible on Friday in Pittsburgh.” Woo! Getting Kintzler, arguably the Cubs best-performing reliever this season, back by Friday would mean he’d miss just two more games. I can dig it.
- Yesterday, Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel threw his first bullpen session since going on the IL, and it reportedly went well. Here’s a far away, grainy look at that BP session in case you don’t believe me that the Sasquatch is real:
Craig Kimbrel (knee) throwing in the Cubs pen pic.twitter.com/pfqSuMR5zz
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 13, 2019
- Kimbrel was placed on the IL on August 5th, but it was retroactive to August 4th, which means he’s technically eligible to come off the list today, but that’s not going to happen. Instead, Kimbrel’s hopeful that it’ll be “just a couple more days,” especially “if it keeps progressing the way it is.” He added an “absolutely” and a “everything was good,” so you’re probably feeling fine about another potential weekend return. For what it’s worth, he’s expected to get one more bullpen session before being activated, so keep an eye out for that first.
- Here he is discussing his progress:
Kimbrel reports progress: pic.twitter.com/MbEzUlCGLy
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) August 13, 2019
- There’s not a ton of info out there on Steve Cishek right now, but the Sun-Times is reporting that he’s expected to rejoin the team for rehab work this week, as they otherwise expect a “short-term IL stay.” He’s not eligible to return from the IL until the 20th, so he has some time left yet, but that’s good news all things considered for a guy with a hip issue who has previously had hip surgery.
- And finally, there’s the matter of the Cubs All-Star catcher who’s out with a right hamstring strain:
Maddon reports Contreras is progressing well but still needs to address more specific strength work right now (on right hamstring). Maddon also said about $60K was raised through his golf tournament yesterday for Hazleton Integration Project.
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) August 13, 2019
- Contreras was initially expected to miss about 4 weeks and good progress or not, I don’t think there’s any reason at all to expect that to be shortened. Fortunately, Victor Caratini is one of the best backups in baseball (a starter on many teams, no doubt) and Jonathan Lucroy is a perfectly acceptable backup. As long as they stay healthy, they’ll be productive enough. The last thing I want is to rush Contreras back. He’s WAY too important to this September/October and the next several years than an addition week of games will ever be. Ideally, you can look for Contreras to be back for the second half of September. If it’s sooner than that, consider it a blessing.