Cubs Injury Notes: Hughes’ Knee, Suzuki’s Oblique, Hoerner’s Biceps
I’m always of two minds when we get news like this. On the one hand, injury stuff is never good. On the other hand, it can be comforting to at least have an explanation.
With lefty Brandon Hughes, the open question has been why he just hasn’t quite looked right this spring. I found it a little hard to put my finger on too precisely – his command wasn’t great, the fastball didn’t quite seem to late life, the slider wasn’t getting anyone to offer, etc. It just seemed, watching him, that he didn’t look like the guy he was last year.
Turns out, Hughes has been dealing with a minor knee issue going back some ways, and that’s why he hasn’t appeared in a game in over a week (Cubs.com). It’s being termed “inflammation,” and it’s possible he pitches this weekend. It’s also possible that the Cubs decide he’s going to be delayed to start the season in any case, and they take a more cautious approach. Either way, my guess is that if he pitches this weekend and looks like his usual self, they’ve all decided he’s good to go. If he doesn’t pitch this weekend – or pitches and still looks off – he’ll start the season on the Injured List.
Given that Hughes was not only possibly the only left in the Opening Day bullpen, but was also a guy who’d had the look of a late-inning option last year, his absence would be something of a problem. I would guess it makes Mark Leiter Jr. even more of a lock to make the pen (I think he’s already there, given how good he’s been in relief and how good he is against lefties), and it makes one of Ryan Borucki or Anthony Kay more likely to make it, too. The challenge there is that those two, like Leiter, aren’t on the 40-man roster. So the Cubs would have to open up two 40-man spots to accommodate them.
Meanwhile, Seiya Suzuki continues to progress in his work coming back from the moderate oblique strain, and Sahadev Sharma said on the ‘Onto Waveland‘ podcast that it’s almost like the new base case is a return in mid-April, and the optimistic case is return after a minimum IL stint. That’s so much faster than we’d previously feared (end of April, or even early May), but apparently Suzuki is doing pretty much everything now. Sharma described how Suzuki was working with the medicine ball, and it’s hard to imagine that much rotational work if you were feeling anything at all in the oblique.
Lastly, Nico Hoerner was scratched yesterday with left biceps tightness, and we haven’t yet heard about it being anything more than a precautionary scratch. Hopefully he’s back in there a time or two before Opening Day; and more near-term, hopefully we get a pleasant update on his status today.