Lots of Cubs injury bits to update folks on, including finally getting some (mild) word on a few 40-man prospects who’ve been out a long time …
⇒ I’ll start there, since I know a lot of people have been wondering what’s up with Brailyn Marquez, who missed all of last season with COVID/myocarditis and shoulder issues, and who was slowed this year by another bad case of COVID. Per The Athletic, Marquez is still in the ramp-up/body-conditioning phase of what is effectively his Spring Training, and whenever he does come back this year, he’ll be on an innings cap because of the various health issues and missed time. That being the case, there’s not a huge rush to get him out there (don’t expect him to pitch for the big league team in the second half, no matter how he looks). If all goes well, you might be able to start thinking about him getting one/two-inning outings at Tennessee in, say, June or July? It’s not fun, but it’s pretty clear the Cubs are approaching his situation with an eye toward trying to make sure he can generate some value for the organization in 2023 (hopefully in the big leagues).
⇒ As for the other big name prospect who is on the 40-man but who has been absent this year, we knew Miguel Amaya would be out after Tommy John surgery. The rehab is still going, and there is hope that he will be able to get in some DH at bats later this year, presumably at Double-A or Triple-A. You still cannot even lightly pencil him in for big league innings behind the plate in 2023, but it is at least conceivable. Not that it would be an appropriate plan for the Cubs to let Willson Contreras walk specifically because they think Amaya can take over next year.
⇒ Sticking in the minors for one more, relief prospect Manny Rodriguez got a PRP injection for his elbow, “with the hope of avoiding surgery.” So, yeah, that elbow injury was potentially not good (while we don’t know what it is, specifically, you do sometimes see the PRP treatment as an alternative to Tommy John surgery when the UCL is only partially torn). Sometimes this all does work out, by the way, and guys pitch for a long, healthy time after PRP. We’ll probably know soon enough, because Rodriguez is due to start throwing again within a couple weeks and he’ll see what’s up.
⇒ Sliding over to the big league roster, but staying on the theme of pitchers who aren’t throwing yet, that’s Adbert Alzolay (lat strain). He also got a PCP injection for that back shoulder area, per the Sun-Times, and there is no timeline offered for when he’ll start throwing. Given that this was the second time in his career that he’s suffered this injury, and given that the first time cost him half of a season, I have personally not been thinking he would realistically return until August, and only then in a short-inning role. It absolutely sucks, given what he could have been this year, but the reality is the reality.
⇒ Other long-term injury guys: David Bote (shoulder surgery) could start a ramp-up/rehab assignment later this month, based on the original timeline. No update on Brad Wieck (elbow strain).
⇒ Clint Frazier seems to be itching to get back:
Clint Frazier was back in clubhouse today — a week+ removed from an appendectomy. Joked that he told Ross he’s available to hit. In reality, still healing from surgery. Still likely a few weeks away.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 3, 2022
Clint Frazier, 10 days removed from appendectomy, joked with manager David Ross that he was ready.
"I definitely think I could swing right now," Frazier said.
"I told him I was more ready than he was," Ross quipped. "We had a big debate. I think he's right. I'm probably not."
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 3, 2022
⇒ Andrelton Simmons is playing in extended spring training games, though yesterday he only batted. In non-game action, he is now throwing across the diamond, so maybe he’s getting close-ish to playing in the field in an extended spring training game or two? From there, it’s going to be a multi-game minor league rehab stint before he comes up to the big team, so even on the most optimistic timeline, you’re still looking at multiple weeks.
⇒ Whenever Simmons and Frazier are ready to return, the Cubs will once again have to figure out how to proceed on the positional side (how much longer does Jason Heyward have? are the Cubs ready to risk putting Michael Hermosillo on waivers? how much more time do guys like Rafael Ortega and Frank Schwindel get? does Frazier get optioned to Iowa? etc. etc.)
⇒ Alec Mills (quad tightness while rehabbing the lower-back issue) has not yet been announced for his next rehab start. Wade Miley (throwing bullpens and live BP that reportedly keep going fine … ) has not yet been announced for his first rehab start. You’d like to hope that both of those announcements are coming soon, but I guess we’ll see.