The Chicago Cubs announced some positive news on some injured players Thursday. Kyle Hendricks is the exception among the following updates although he still expects to pitch again this year.
27-year-old Adbert Alzolay hasn’t pitched a game yet this season due to a right lat strain he suffered in Spring Training. It’s the same injury he suffered in 2018 when he was shut down for the remainder of the year in mid-June. He remains on the 60-day injured list. However, the righty has built up to throwing bullpen sessions and will begin tossing live batting practice in the “coming week or so.”
Many had high hopes for Alzolay this year, especially with the addition of Marcus Stroman. The two seemed to be clicking and building a relationship in Spring Training. Alzolay’s big-league struggles have mainly been due to his ineffectiveness against left-handed batters. Stroman once had similar issues but improved following the 2019 season.
The addition of his split-change was a big reason why. It held opponents to a .262 wOBA in 2021. This year, Stroman hasn’t thrown the split-change as frequently but tosses it 16.9 percent to left-handed batters, and it’s held them to a .158 average and .140 wOBA.
If Alzolay can get into game action soon and make his way to Wrigley, maybe Stro and the coaching staff can help Alzolay develop his secondary offerings to improve against lefties. Southpaws hit 20 home runs with a .384 wOBA against Adbert last year. Getting him on the mound and healthy is the first step, so him throwing bullpens along with live BP soon is a positive sign that he can return to MLB action this season. Most likely, that’ll be in a relief role.
The other Chicago Cubs’ pitching news drops involved veterans Kyle Hendricks and Wade Miley. The Professor, Hendricks, hasn’t pitched since July 5 due to a right shoulder strain. An MRI revealed no structural damage. According to Meghan Montemurro of the Chicago Tribune, Hendricks was looked at in Chicago. He did not pass the “smell test” when doing weighted range of motion.
Hendricks expects to return in 2022, but if there are lingering issues like this, one has to wonder what the point is in a non-competitive season where returning might cause more harm than good.
On the other hand, Miley is expected to throw 35 pitches in a rehab start for the South Bend Cubs on Friday. Much like Hendricks, Miley is working his way back from a shoulder strain he suffered upon returning from a previous IL stint involving the same shoulder. It was Miley’s third trip to the IL this season.
When healthy, he’s been effective with a 2.84 ERA in 19 IP. Taylor McGregor of Marquee Sports Network reported that Miley told her he’d need probably two to three starts at the Minors before he’s ready to return to the Cubs.
Position Player Injury Updates
Andrelton Simmons began his rehab assignment Thursday with the Iowa Cubs. Simmons is among the many Cubs players working their way back from a right shoulder strain. He went 0-2 with a walk in Thursday’s contest.
It’s nice to see him getting healthy, but bringing him back to the big-league level creates a roster log jam. His bat wasn’t cutting it. Simmons only hit .173 with a 25 wRC+ before heading to the injured list on July 14. Trades could create a roster spot for Simmons, but not many of the Chicago Cubs rumored to be dealt at the deadline are infielders.
Nick Madrigal also continues to progress in a rehab assignment alongside Simmons. Madrigal hit third in last night’s Iowa Cubs lineup right behind Simmons. He went 2-4 with a double and two runs scored.
Madrigal has been on the IL since mid-June with a groin strain. Known for his contact ability and line drive skills, Madrigal was hitting only .222 before the injury designation. Hopefully, he’s figuring out a few things in these rehab appearances. After suffering a setback and returning to rehab stint action last week, Madrigal is hitting .333 in 24 at-bats.
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