Well the news is all there in the headline: Jeimer Candelario, who’s been on the injured list with a strained lower back since September 10, could be back with the team as soon as this weekend. But we can get more specific than that.
Or at least, Cubs Manager David Ross can (via 670 the Score): “He’s such a balancing part of our lineup,” Ross said. “He’s going through full baseball activity today. We’ll see how he reacts tomorrow. Looking at it, I think the best-case scenario is probably Sunday. If not, Tuesday is the hope.”
Sunday against the Rockies at Wrigley Field or (following an off-day on Monday) Tuesday against the Braves in Atlanta.
Others have reported that Candelario is resuming baseball activity today, and it’s a pretty standard “see how he recovers” timeline after that. And with the season narrowing to its final days, he’ll have to come back without the benefit of a rehab assignment (not that he’s been gone for a particularly long time).
And the Cubs will be happy to have him back, especially with Nick Madrigal also on the IL and likely done for the season.
Of course, it’s not like it had been going all that well for Candelario. Cut out just his first two games with the team in early August (two games that featured some lucky/flukey hits/extra bases), and Candelario has slashed just .183/.278/.385 (79 wRC+) with a 26.2% strikeout rate over 126 PAs. He had been particularly cold since August 28, with just three hits, six walks, and 14 strikeouts in 44 PAs: .083/.227/.278 (41 wRC+).
But two things are both true and moderately uplifting here:
There’s also the fact that Candelario certainly feels like a plausible Cubs free agent target this offseason, for that very same versatility. It would be nice to see him finish strong and really provide some confidence that he can still be a plus bat for this team next season and beyond (if it comes to that).