CHICAGO -- The Cubs activated Jason Heyward from the disabled list prior their game Sunday against the Reds at Wrigley Field.Heyward was not in the starting lineup, though manager Joe Maddon said the veteran right fielder was available off the bench."He's good to go," Maddon said. "We're] still being cautious,
CHICAGO -- The Cubs activated Jason Heyward from the disabled list prior their game Sunday against the Reds at Wrigley Field.
Heyward was not in the starting lineup, though manager Joe Maddon said the veteran right fielder was available off the bench.
"He's good to go," Maddon said. "[We're] still being cautious, but he's good to go."
The Cubs plan on easing Heyward back from his DL stint for a right hamstring strain, similar to how they handled Addison Russell when he came off the disabled list at the start of September. Russell returned as a defensive replacement and late-innings substitute for a few games before starting at shortstop.
Maddon said the lefty-swinging Heyward will also be out of the lineup Monday night at Arizona with the D-backs starting left-hander Patrick Corbin. Once again, Heyward will be available to pinch-hit and play defense later in the game. As long as nothing goes wrong in his return, Heyward should be back in the Cubs' lineup soon.
Heyward, 29, already has made an immediate impact on the Cubs upon his return from the DL this season. After missing time in May with a concussion, Heyward came off the DL and batted .336 with an .885 OPS in 36 games from May 18 through June.
"You realize how important he's been by his absence," Maddon said. "And now he's rested. In perverse ways, sometimes these things actually work in your favor."
Starters emerging late in season
Starting pitching had been among the Cubs' biggest questions through the first four months of the season, with Yu Darvish's injuries, Tyler Chatwood's lack of command and Jose Quintana's inconsistency.
Then came the deal for Cole Hamels, who immediately became the Cubs' most reliable starter.
"We were just five [innings] or less with a lot of guys," Maddon said. "Of course, Cole getting here has kind of righted the ship. What he's done has kind of inspired the rest of the group."
Jonathan Lester is pitching as well as he had during the first half of the season after a five-start midseason funk. And Quintana is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball -- 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his five outings before his start Sunday vs. the Reds.
The success of the starters could hardly come at a more optimal time for the Cubs, with their bullpen somewhat gassed and their two closers this season, Brandon Morrow and his replacement, Pedro Strop, on the disabled list.
"As they're able to continue to do this," Maddon said, "then this bullpen can catch the breath that they need right now."
• Kyle Schwarber will not travel to Arizona for the Cubs' three-game series with the D-backs. Arizona has two left-handed pitchers scheduled to start in the series, and Maddon said it made more sense to give Schwarber a few more days before getting back in the lineup. There's a good chance he could return as the designated hitter for the Cubs' weekend series against the White Sox on the South Side.
• Thomas La Stella was scratched from the lineup due to lower back tightness. He is considered day to day.
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.