Although it doesn’t quite feel like it, the Cubs are dealing with a number of high-profile injuries right now – including one of their top starters, Kyle Hendricks (shoulder), two of their top relievers, Carl Edwards Jr. (shoulder) and Brandon Morrow (elbow), and their top prospect, Nico Hoerner (wrist).
But it is my pleasure to let you know that all four have very good news to report:
Updates from Theo…
• Hendricks 15 pitches off mound today. Full bullpen tentatively later in week
• Edwards up to 120 feet today, should be off mound in near future
• Morrow has completed two mound sessions with no issues
• Hoerner could start rehab games in AZ this week
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 24, 2019
You can get some additional details from Bruce Levine, Mark Gonzales, Sahadev Sharma, and Gordon Wittenmyer, but Jordan Bastian hits all the high marks right there. Now, let’s break it down – briefly – one by one.
Kyle Hendricks, who hit the Injured List with a right shoulder impingement, was progressing slowly, but surely, starting with a little bit of catch on Friday. But today, he took another big step and actually threw off the mound. As you can see, it wasn’t a full bullpen session (just 15 pitches), but that could be happening in the very near future. According to Kelly Crull, Hendricks could return around the All-Star break, which is a bit earlier than normal this year (July 7th). In the meantime, the Cubs have called up Adbert Alzolay while also switching to a six-man rotation with Tyler Chatwood. Both are scheduled to pitch this series against the Braves.
Carl Edwards Jr. was diagnosed with a thoracic strain in his left (i.e. non-throwing) shoulder just over a week ago, but hasn’t done anything since … until today. According to multiple reports on Twitter, Edwards played catch from 120 feet, which you can see below:
Carl Edwards Jr. throwing from about 90 feet pic.twitter.com/BmPov3kOaS
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) June 24, 2019
Reports seem to suggest that he could be cleared to throw off the mound soon, but that “soon” is very to be determined. It’s easy to forget, because of how his season started/his demotion, but remember, Edwards was on fire before getting hurt. He had rattled of eight straight scoreless outings and has a 2.03 ERA/2.58 FIP since returning from Triple-A Iowa (just 3 walks in 13.1 IP!).
Brandon Morrow (a.k.a. the great white whale) has mostly been absent from Cubs’ fans minds, since going on the Injured list at the half-way point … last season, but maybe he’ll …. never-mind. I’m not going to finish that sentence.
Morrow has had a couple of false starts already this year, but is apparently progressing well lately. Just under a week ago, we learned that he was playing catch at 135 feet, but the real test was supposed to be the TBD bullpen sessions we didn’t hear much about until today.
And, well, apparently, he has thrown not one but TWO bullpen sessions without issue and will throw a third session tomorrow! Which … dude. If and when he gets through that third bullpen session – without issue – we might, maybe, could, possibly, potentially, theoretically start thinking about a Minor League rehab assignment. Of course, even with the recent optimism, you should not bank on him returning anytime soon (let alone being himself when he does return after a full year off and at age 34). But this is clearly a good sign and I won’t take that away from you. Let’s just not do any more forecasting with respect to Morrow, because my heart can’t handle it anymore.
And finally, Nico Hoerner, who originally went down with a left wrist contusion that was later downgraded to a hairline fracture, could play in rehab games out in Arizona as soon as THIS WEEK. Hoerner, you’ll recall, was the Cubs top draft pick last season who burst onto the scene with a more advanced bat than expected last year, before going down with an unrelated injury. Then, he killed it in the AFL and got an aggressive promotion to Double-A this year, before going down with the wrist fracture. When he does finally return to Double-A Tennessee, he’ll return to a .300/.391/.500 slash line. He’s been so very exciting to follow, so I’ll be very interested to see him return ASAP. The worry with him is how the power will have been affected by a wrist injury, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
AH! I love good news. Keep working, dudes. We need all of you.