Zobrist set to return from restricted list Sunday

Hamels activated off paternity list, will start Saturday

August 30th, 2019

CHICAGO -- hasn’t played in an MLB game in almost four months, but his return to the Cubs lineup appears to be imminent. The Cubs plan to activate Zobrist on Sunday when MLB rosters expand from 25 men to 40.

Manager Joe Maddon is thrilled to have his veteran utility man back in the fold, but he knows he will have to ease the 2016 World Series Most Valuable Player into it.

“Probably a slower break-in. Don’t want to throw too much at him too soon,” Maddon said. “Again, we’ll have a conversation and he’ll let me know exactly where he’s at and [we’ll] try to make our best guesses after that.”

Zobrist was batting .241 with 10 RBIs in 26 games before being placed on the restricted list on May 8. The 38-year-old began his rehab assignment on Aug. 2.

There may be a chance Zobrist doesn’t play right away, though, as the Cubs will face back-to-back left-handers on both Sunday vs. Milwaukee and Monday vs. the Mariners. Maddon’s preference to bat Zobrist left-handed could force a few initial lineup adjustments.

“I don’t think you want to throw him into the fire on consecutive days," Maddon said. "Just try to pick a good spot, see how he looks and see how he feels.”

Zobrist’s skill set gives Maddon another option atop the Cubs lineup. Entering Friday, Cubs leadoff hitters are slashing .205/.282/.381 with a .663 OPS in 133 games this season.

“I’m not concerned about that,” Maddon said. “He’s always going to work the good at-bat, I think he’ll accept his walks. He’ll always set a great example, so that part I’m not worried about.”

Hamels back from paternity leave

Before Friday’s game against the Brewers, the Cubs activated left-handed pitcher off the paternity list and optioned right-handed pitcher back to Triple-A Iowa.

Hamels will make his next start Saturday vs. Milwaukee. The veteran left-hander is 7-4 with a 3.73 ERA in 22 starts this season.