CHICAGO -- On Monday, a day after manager Joe Maddon said he doesn’t expect veteran utility man Ben Zobrist back “any time soon," team president Theo Epstein said he hopes to have a better understanding of when that could happen in the near future.
Zobrist, the 2016 World Series MVP, has been on the restricted list since May 8 as he deals with a family issue. Epstein said before Monday’s game against the Reds that he has been in contact with Zobrist and anticipates speaking more specifically about “plans and timetables."
Epstein didn’t have more to divulge about what a Zobrist return could look like or what role he could play. Maddon, who indicated he has left it up to Epstein to communicate with Zobrist, said on Sunday that after such a long layoff, Zobrist would need time to get ready to return to the lineup. At this point, Epstein said, he and Zobrist haven’t had advanced enough conversations to determine anything definite.
“I look forward to speaking to him soon,” Epstein said. “We’ve just been texting. Hopefully, we can get some sort of plan in place.
“We’re still hopeful that he returns. We need to make sure that can happen and then get a plan in place.”
Cole Hamels (left oblique) threw on flat ground on Monday as he continues to progress from the injury he sustained on June 30 in Cincinnati, and he is moving closer to throwing a bullpen session.
Hamels has been nearly symptom-free since before the All-Star break. The Cubs wanted to see how he responded to treatment over the break, which he did in a positive manner. Epstein said Hamels is "raring to go" and added that as long as he continues to move in a positive direction, he will continue to throw at an appropriate rate.