Ben Zobrist had a good night in his one-appearance outing with the Tennessee Smokies, knocking a double off the wall and walking three times. Nico Hoerner even knocked Zobrist in once, and that’s just fun.
The plan now is to have Zobrist head back to AAA Iowa for what might be his final tune-up.
As you know, the 25-man roster expands to the full 40-man on September 1*, which would make it a lot easier to then call back up Zobrist (and anyone else) without having to figure out coordinating moves. For now, sounds like that’s the plan:
As I’ve reported for months, Ben Zobrist on track for a Sept.1 call up, per Theo
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 21, 2019
Assuming he stays healthy this week, then, you could look for Zobrist to finally be back with the big league team next weekend against the Brewers – maybe even a day or two earlier than September 1 if the Cubs have the roster spot, and feel like he could help in that important series.
In any case, everyone seems pretty optimistic that he isn’t going to simply be a clubhouse cheerleading leader when he does return:
Ben Zobrist is "absolutely going to contribute" when he returns to the #Cubs, Jed Hoyer says.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) August 22, 2019
Obviously the Cubs will soon once again have a whole lot of theoretical options available at second base: Addison Russell, Ian Happ, Tony Kemp, Ben Zobrist, David Bote, and Daniel Descalso. Heck, the Cubs could bring Robel Garcia back up, too, if they wanted.
If Happ keeps on raking like he has been, I would expect him to take the biggest chunk of those starts, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a majority. In fact, it’s possible Happ will see more time in the outfield once all those other second basemen are back.
The long and the short there is that even if Zobrist is good to go and ready to contribute, I wouldn’t look for him to immediately be an everyday starter again. He’ll contribute as much as he’s able, and as quickly as he shows he’s the best option in various situations.