Cubs Pitcher Injury Status Checks: Hendricks, Heuer, Roberts

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Cubs Pitcher Injury Status Checks: Hendricks, Heuer, Roberts

Chicago Cubs

We’ve got a better idea on the timelines for three Chicago Cubs pitchers who have been, and still will be, out for a while: Kyle Hendricks, Codi Heuer, and Ethan Roberts.

Kyle Hendricks (Capsular Tear in Shoulder, suffered roughly late-summer 2022)

Hendricks, who was always expected to open the season on the Injured List, has been working through a rehab program since the fall. His shoulder injury did not require surgery, but it does leave open a question on how effective he will be when he does return. He and the Cubs have been working hard to ensure that he’s in the best possible physical and mechanical position to succeed, though, taking it a very deliberate pace.

To that end, Hendricks right now estimates that he’s about a month behind his usual ramp-up schedule for a season, but I bet we’ll know a heckuva lot more when he first throws off the mound on Friday:

You could speculate that, if he’s a month behind his usual ramp-up, that Hendricks would be ready about a month into the season. I tend to think that’s not really something we can project, though, because (1) that final “month” of ramp-up might also take longer than usual, just like the rest of the offseason has, (2) the Cubs might want to limit Hendricks’ innings this year anyway, and (3) nobody really knows for sure how Hendricks’ shoulder is going to respond when he starts throwing off the mound at full intent (which still won’t come for a while).

Good to know that Hendricks will throw this Friday, but I still think it’s a very open question when he’s going to debut. I also can’t help but wonder if this uncertainty has any relationship to the Cubs still not making Michael Fulmer’s deal officially official, which will require a 40-man roster spot. That could come by putting Codi Heuer on the 60-day IL (UPDATE: Officially official, that’s what happened), or maybe Hendricks is under consideration for a 60-day designation? That would mean he could not return until at least 61 days into the regular season.

Codi Heuer (Tommy John surgery, took place mid-March 2022)

Speaking of Heuer, whose Tommy John surgery last year was described as being more involved than your typical procedure, it was encouraging to see that he’s throwing off the mound already, even if not at full intent.

That said, Heuer told CHGO that he’s still looking at a recovery timeline in the 15-16 month range, which is a touch longer than the typical 12-14 month range for a reliever Tommy John surgery. At 15 months, Heuer would not be returning to the big league mound until mid-June, so you’re looking at sometime in June or July for a Heuer season debut, if all continues to progress well from here. Heuer likely won’t be facing live hitting until the end of Spring Training, and is therefore likely to stick around at extended Spring Training for a while before starting a rehab assignment.

Since that big league return would be solidly more than 60 days into the regular season, it would seem we’re still very likely to see Heuer placed on the 60-day IL to open up a 40-man spot when necessary. It hasn’t happened yet for whatever reason, but since the actual counting of the 60 days doesn’t begin until Opening Day, there’s not a rush – until the Cubs need a 40-man spot, that is. (UPDATE: It just happened.)

Ethan Roberts (Tommy John surgery, took place mid-July 2022)

Speaking of which, Roberts has already been placed on the 60-day IL, opening up a 40-man spot this weekend for infielder Edwin Rios.

Roberts suffered his UCL tear while on the rehab trail from an earlier injury in the 2022 season, which turned 2022 into a mostly lost year for the breakout relief prospect. Now, it sounds like he’ll miss most of 2023 as well.

Roberts told the Sun-Times that he’s looking at a full return in the 14 month range, which would be September, if he’s able to return this season at all. That’s the goal.

You’d very much like to see him back on the mound this year if at all possible, not only because it might wind up a nice late-season infusion for the bullpen, but also because you would want him getting in some of that work before the offseason arrives. Otherwise, he won’t have been on a big league mound for nearly two years by the time the 2024 season starts.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.