Although the Cubs have seen the returns of Wade Miley and Andrelton Simmons over the past week+, there are still a boatload of players on the Injured List, and a variety of updates to share …
Clint Frazier (appendicitis) is starting his rehab assignment at Iowa today, where he wants to spend only five or so games. In other words, Frazier is hoping he can be right back to game speed by early next week. What might happen on the positional side of the roster when he’s ready to go remains to be seen – it’s not that there isn’t a spot for him, obviously, it’s that the starting opportunities may be limited if he can play only left field or DH, and those spots are filled up by the combination of Ian Happ, Frank Schwindel (because of Alfonso Rivas), and Rafael Ortega. You want Frazier playing almost every day (or at least, that was what I wanted to see when the season opened), and he does have a minor league option year remaining. Again, we’ll see what happens, and I’d prefer he was getting regular at bats in the big leagues so the Cubs can figure out if he’s a possible 2023+ player for them.
Nick Madrigal (lower back) is doing light activity, but it doesn’t necessarily read to me like he’s going to return as soon as he’s eligible this coming weekend. Moreover, the Cubs very likely want Madrigal to get in some rehab games at Iowa before he returns, both to make sure he’s healthy, but also to perhaps help him get his timing in a better place.
There really still isn’t much of an update on Marcus Stroman and David Robertson, who are on the IL without a designation and without taking up a 40-man spot, which means they are on the COVID IL. We are approaching 10 days of their absence, which means they may still be symptomatic, may still be testing positive, or may otherwise not be eligible to be cleared for some reason. No idea. It’s a little frustrating, but I understand that the Cubs and David Ross are permitted to discuss the topic only in generalities (“Things are looking good,” Those guys are progressing well,” etc.).
The two have been able to keep throwing, so hopefully there won’t be much of a re-ramp-up process, but Stroman hasn’t actually pitched in a game since May 1. It’s hard to imagine that he could immediately take a big league start if it weren’t happening by today (which it’s not). It just sucks a little extra because Stroman was coming off his best start of the year when COVID hit.
Alec Mills (back, quad) is expected to throw live batting practice today, which could be a precursor to trying the rehab assignment thing again.
Ethan Roberts (shoulder inflammation) has done some light throwing and “feels great.” You wonder if he is getting close-ish to throwing a bullpen session, and then a rehab assignment later this month.
Sean Newcomb (ankle) has done some light mound work to test out the ankle, but it doesn’t sound like he’s super close to a return.
David Bote (shoulder) could start a rehab assignment later this week, but for him, it’s going to be a multi-week process akin to Spring Training. He is not eligible to come off the 60-day IL until early June.