Finally, the rehab assignments have started. Generally every injured Cub is on the mend, but that is always still a pretty flabby status until a guy actually starts playing in games again. Once a guy hits up the minor leagues for a rehab assignment, depending on his injury and his role, you can start to project a more concrete timeline for a return to the big league team.
First up, Dillon Maples (triceps) starts his rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa today, and since he was out only a brief time, I figure he could probably be back to the big leagues as quickly as the Cubs decide they need him. Because Maples is out of minor league options, though, and because the bullpen is otherwise full up, the Cubs might proceed cautiously with Maples’ return – both to protect his arm, and also because they have the ability to keep him at Triple-A right now while he rehabs (something they can’t otherwise do).
Next, you have two more pitchers starting their rehabs tomorrow at Iowa. Trevor Williams (appendectomy) will be building back up, likely over multiple starts. It’s pretty hard to see him, realistically, needing fewer than two starts – probably at least three – having been out for a month. If it’s like a Spring Training build up, you can figure Williams might go 30 to 45 pitches tomorrow, with an eye toward topping 50 the next time out.
Justin Steele (hamstring) is finally hitting the rehab circuit tomorrow, too. Steele, who has been out for more than a month, was a versatile reliever for the Cubs when healthy (sometimes single-inning, sometimes match-up, sometimes multi-inning), so he’s going to be stretched back out to do multiple innings (per David Ross). That doesn’t mean he’ll be starting or anything like that, but given the Cubs’ rotation, you can bet they would love to have Steele – like Keegan Thompson – able to go two or three innings at a time, if necessary. To that end, you can figure his rehab assignment will last multiple appearances, and probably solidly into July.
Also about to set out on a rehab stint at Iowa is David Bote (shoulder), who could begin as soon as early next week (NBC). Love to hear that, though, as a matter of contrast, Nico Hoerner is described only as “progressing,” and was not mentioned as a rehab assignment guy. No updates on Matt Duffy. Those are the two you want back as soon as possible because of their particular skillset at the plate, but it just seems like it’s going to be July before they’re on the rehab trail.