It Sounds Like the Cubs Expect a Decision On Ben Zobrist Fairly Soon (Like One Week)

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It Sounds Like the Cubs Expect a Decision On Ben Zobrist Fairly Soon (Like One Week)

Chicago Cubs

Theo Epstein’s interview on 670 The Score earlier today was a treasure trove of important information and player updates. We already discussed the injury news with respect to Willson Contreras, Cole Hamels, and Brandon Morrow, and there’ll still be a full “Theo Epstein Speaks” later today.

But in the meantime, I wanted to address Epstein’s comments on Ben Zobrist’s return, because although there wasn’t anything particularly concrete, there was another tone change and a legitimate update to discuss.

First, the tone change: After Zobrist had been gone for about a month or two, the general feeling around the team was that no one should expect a return – at all – this season. But then, suddenly, things started feeling a little more optimistic and a potential September 1st return felt like a real possibility (maybe it still is).

But when listening to Theo Epstein speak earlier today, I did not get that sense. Epstein kept repeating lines like We’re not counting on this at all and We are not operating under the assumption that he’ll be back, let alone someone we can count on down the stretch and in the postseason. 

There was more to it than that (you can listen to it right here), but I’ve heard Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and others discuss this topic recently, and this time there seemed to be a little more general pessimism than usual. It’s important to keep in mind that this was just my impression of Epstein’s comments, but that is the sense I took away.

One material point: Epstein said that the Cubs expect to hear an actual decision from Zobrist fairly soon: “We’re going to know something more in about a week, and that will be when it’s time to ultimately make a decision, because he’ll need to really ramp up baseball activities or not.”

Epstein continued: “We’re approaching the point where he’ll be all in or it’ll be ruled out through mutual agreement, because there’s a requisite amount of time where he’ll have to get back into real, full baseball activities and play a bunch of minor league games,” Epstein said. “So we’re getting there. He’s well aware of that, and we, are too. Like I said, we’re not counting on it.”

In short, there is only so much time left in the Minor League seasons and if Zobrist doesn’t decide whether or not he’s going to use that time left to get back into competitive baseball shape, his window will have passed and he won’t be able to return, even if he wants to. Zobrist is aware of this fact and the Cubs seem to believe they’ll have a final decision within a week or so.

That doesn’t mean we’ll know what Zobrist decides right away – indeed, the Cubs may want to keep that private for trade deadline leverage reasons – but there could be a very significant update soon. Stay tuned.

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami