Injury issues aren’t going away for the Chicago Cubs.
Some players are going in the right direction. Right-hander Alec Mills and left-hander Sean Newcomb made rehab appearances at Triple-A Iowa on Friday while Clint Frazier was activated from the injured list on Saturday ahead of the City Series opener against the Whites Sox at guaranteed rate field. The outfielder has missed 31 games due to an appendectomy.
Michael Hermosillo was traded to the 10-day IL while southpaw Brandon Hughes, who was brought up from Triple-A as a backup player during the Cubs’ COVID-19 troubles, was moved back to Iowa.
Jason Heyward also joined the Cubs for their weekend series but isn’t ready to leave IL. Heyward has been cleared to participate in baseball activities and is on his way back. He’s on IL regardless of injury, which is usually COVID-related.
However, the Cubs face impending IL decisions on left-hander Wade Miley and outfielder Seiya Suzuki.
Miley told the Tribune that he felt “a little something” in his left shoulder and considered himself day to day. Miley, who was due to start on Sunday against the White Sox, described it as a shoulder knot. Right-hander Marcus Stroman (2-4, 4.71 ERA) will start in place of Miley.
The veteran said he was never able to pull away when he started on Sunday at Wrigley Field, explaining how he resisted the exit, which was harder than his quality start indicated. He first became concerned when his arm didn’t rebound well afterwards.
“I know I haven’t had a normal spring, so I’m basically four starts,” Miley said. “It’s kind of where I feel right now, in the middle of spring training. Maybe just need a few days.
Miley played Saturday afternoon under the supervision of pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and head coach PJ Mainville. Miley felt better on Saturday compared to when he performed a few days ago.
“It’s something I’ve dealt with before,” Miley said. “I don’t think it’s anything serious. I just want to get him out of there.
Team president Jed Hoyer expressed some concern about Miley’s shoulder on Saturday, saying “we’re working on it.”
“You’re definitely hoping it’s something you can get out of quickly,” Hoyer said. “But we don’t want to crawl all year round.”
Suzuki was not in the lineup on Saturday due to a sprained left ring finger. Hoyer caught up with him after the outfielder participated in pre-game baseball activities and said Suzuki’s finger was still sore, swollen and stiff. The Cubs are expected to make an IL decision on Sunday if they want to backdate it by up to three days.
“You hate putting a guy on the IL and on day 5 he tells you he feels good,” Hoyer said. “But there obviously comes that moment with the backdating by which you want to make that decision.”
The Cubs started a streak on Saturday by playing 11 games in nine days through two doubleheaders. Playing shorthanded is never ideal, especially when faced with a busy game. The situation with the Cubs’ 40 players complicates their options.
“Right now, 40 men is a real consideration,” Hoyer said.
The Cubs have just two healthy players on the 40-man roster in outfielder Nelson Velázquez, who was recently promoted to Triple A for the first time, and Double-A outfielder Alexander Canario. They also have limited healthy options on the pitching side, led by Mark Leiter Jr., Conner Menez and Hughes.
“You don’t want to mess up the 40 players or lose a really good player for something that could last two or three days, so we thought about those things a lot,” Hoyer said. “I think we will get through these doubleheaders. We will get through some of these ILs in the short term. I think when we do that, we’ll have a better chance of making some of those decisions that might affect our 40s.