Cubs being cautious with Hoerner's rehab

August 23rd, 2021

CHICAGO -- Cubs manager David Ross understands the frustration that must be feeling, given the setback in the infielder's comeback from the injured list. That said, Ross is happy Hoerner played things safe on Sunday.

"Smart move," Ross said on Monday afternoon ahead of the Cubs' game against the Rockies.

During a Minor League rehab appearance with High-A South Bend on Sunday, Hoerner left in the middle of an at-bat in the third inning after feeling tension in his right oblique. That is the location of the injury that landed Hoerner on the 10-day injured list on July 29.

Ross noted Monday that follow-up testing showed that Hoerner did not re-injure the oblique. Still, Chicago is going to take a cautious approach. The middle infielder will receive a handful of rest days before building back up through baseball activities.

Ross said "hopefully" Hoerner can then head back out on a rehab assignment "maybe in a week or two."

A variety of health issues this season have limited the 24-year-old Hoerner to 39 games, in which he has hit .313 with a .776 OPS. The goal was to have Hoerner back with the Cubs soon to get an extended look at him at shortstop before the offseason arrives.

"I don't think anybody likes setbacks, right?" Ross said. "You know in his heart he wants to be on that field. Everything about him, I want him to get back. We'll take this as just a good lesson of like, keep patience."

Willson coming soon?

Willson Contreras littered the Wrigley Field bleachers with home run balls during an early round of batting practice on Monday. The Cubs catcher might be cleared to bring that power back to the lineup sooner than expected.

"We play some American League teams coming up," Ross said. "So, if he can hit and run the bases, we might be able to get him back a little bit sooner than the first of [September]."

Specifically, the Cubs will play under AL rules with the designated hitter available for five road games against the White Sox (Friday-Sunday) and Twins (Aug. 31-Sept. 1).

Contreras -- on the 10-day IL due to a right knee sprain -- is already eligible for activation and has been able to take on baserunning, agility drills, throwing and hitting as part of his comeback. There are still some catching-specific hurdles for him to clear.

"Blocking is one. Moving laterally," Ross said. "[If he can] play free like that, then maybe we can bring him back even a little bit earlier at some point, and maybe hold off on catching."

Down on the farm

• Triple-A Iowa: First baseman Alfonso Rivas went 1-for-4 on Sunday to extend his hitting streak to nine games (.343 average), and is batting .388 in his last 13 games. Rivas was hitting at a .314 clip through 20 games in August.

• Double-A Tennessee: Infielder Chase Strumpf (No. 24 on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 Cubs prospects) went 2-for-2 with a homer, double, two walks and two RBIs in the second game of a doubleheader with Birmingham on Sunday.

• High-A South Bend: Righty Max Bain racked up eight strikeouts in five innings of a loss to Quad Cities on Sunday. Bain, 23, has 21 strikeouts and 11 hits allowed in 19 1/3 innings across his past four games.

• Low-A Myrtle Beach: Shortstop Ed Howard (No. 7 on the Cubs' Top 30) went 2-for-2 with a double and two RBIs, and catcher Casey Opitz (eighth round pick in 2021 Draft) went 2-for-4 in a loss to Fayetteville on Sunday.