An array of Chicago Cubs injury updates for your Saturday morning …
Willson Contreras (HBP on the ankle) is expected to start at least one of today’s games, at least as of last evening. You’d certainly hope so, since P.J. Higgins caught the last two games, and it’s hard to imagine he could follow that by catching two more full games today. The Cubs don’t have a back-up-back-up catcher active on the 40-man roster at the moment, so I’m sure they’d prefer not to have to add someone to the 40-man just to catch one of today’s games.
Speaking of the catching situation, no update on Yan Gomes‘ oblique injury. He was placed on the IL 10 days ago, so he is eligible to come off any time now, but there has been no indication that a return is close (and you wouldn’t expect it that quickly with an oblique strain).
The bad news on Drew Smyly‘s oblique injury is that the MRI “revealed a more severe strain,” so that’s going to have him out for a while. The good news is that he isn’t feeling pain, and has his normal range of motion. But no one wants him to push it, so he estimates (at best?) it’ll be three or four weeks before he can return. My guess is that it’ll be on the longer end of that, as the Cubs will want him fully healthy before returning in July – they’re going to want him to be able to make a handful of fully-healthy starts before the August 2 Trade Deadline just in case they want to/have the opportunity to trade him for a meaningful return. It really sucks, because he was quietly having a very solid back-of-the-rotation start to the year.
Better news on Wade Miley (shoulder), who has already thrown a bullpen, and who might be back sooner than July. There isn’t a specific timeline just yet, so we’ll wait and see. The Trade-Deadline-related implications are the same, though. The Cubs would ideally like to have Miley back for at least a decent stretch – at full health – before August 2 so that they have options.
Alec Mills will make at least one more rehab start on Tuesday before coming back to the big league team:
Alec Mills is here with the #Cubs, checking in before he makes his next rehab start Tuesday when he’s looking to go 5 IP/75 pitches.
Mills is not sure of plans after that. He’s eligible to come off 60-day IL Monday.
— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) June 2, 2022
Extremely unclear what role Mills will fill when he does make his season debut, especially since the bullpen is going to shrink by one shortly after he might return.
Adbert Alzolay is now playing catch:
Update on righty Adbert Alzolay (60-day IL, shoulder): Resuming light catch today in Arizona, following a re-check with team doctor/med staff in Chicago.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 3, 2022
From playing catch, you wouldn’t expect him to be back up on a mound for three+ weeks, and then you’d have another three+ weeks of work to build up off the mound. It’s possible he would be facing batters in live BP by that point, and then it’s possible he could head out to the minors on a rehab stint a couple weeks after that. This is a VERY rough sketch of a possible timeline – I have no inside knowledge of any particularities in the plan for him – but if it goes that way, you’re looking at Alzolay possibly pitching in the minors in late-July/early-August, and then pitching in the big leagues for something like six weeks at the end of the year. At this point, I’d gladly lock that in so that he could at least get in SOME big league action before the offseason.