Contreras (hamstring) up to throwing drills

No timetable set for catcher's return to Cubs; Zobrist on pace to be activated soon

August 24th, 2019

CHICAGO -- pulled a blue Cubs hat out of his locker, began to put it on and then changed his mind. The catcher tossed it back on a shelf and then donned the white Players' Weekend cap before putting on the matching jersey.

Since Contreras is on the 10-day injured list, he did not get to join his teammates in wearing the uniforms during this weekend's games. But while participating in a workout, Contreras wore "VENEZUELA" as a tribute to his home country.

The workout itself was another step forward for Contreras as well.

"I talked to him walking in today. He's feeling great," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Typically, Willson is eager to get back out there, but when he comes back, again, knowing how eager he is, we've got to watch that."

Contreras, who has been going through daily running and agility drills during this homestand, advanced to throwing to second base prior to Saturday afternoon's game against the Nationals. Contreras threw from a standing position and also from a squat. He did a series of throws to second and then more to the edge of the outfield grass.

Contreras -- the starting catcher for the National League All-Star team in each of the past two Midsummer Classics -- strained his right hamstring while running to first base in a game against the Brewers on Aug. 3. He was given an initial timetable for return of about four weeks, but there has been no target date announced for Contreras' return to the Cubs.

If the Cubs want to send Contreras on a Minor League rehab assignment, Triple-A Iowa would be the likely destination, given that the affiliate has a postseason in its future. Maddon noted that Contreras might be able to get some games in as a designated hitter before advancing to catching, but nothing has been scheduled on that front.

There are still boxes to check for Contreras, who will travel with the Cubs for their upcoming road series against the Mets.

"He's done limited hitting to this point. He hasn't hit on the field yet, he told me," Maddon said. "He will figure that out [how to get his timing back before being activated] on his own -- he's going to have to. But as we get closer to getting him out there, we'll know more about the number of at-bats we might be able to get him."

When Contreras comes back, Maddon said the three-catcher setup that includes and will help ease the All-Star back into the mix.

"I will look to parcel that out and utilitze them in the best possible way," Maddon said. "But, we know that Willson is a force. We know what he looked like before this all occurred, and what he's probably going to look like when he comes back. But you're absolutely right, there'd be no reason to push him at that point."

Worth noting

• Veteran has hit .212 with four extra-base hits, eight walks and an .820 OPS through 11 games (41 plate appearances) on his Minor League assignment (four affiliates). The 38-year-old Zobrist was slated to suit up for Iowa on Saturday before taking a few days off. Zobrist is on pace to be activated from the restricted list ahead of the Sept. 1 roster expansion.

"It's just how he's feeling right now," Maddon said of evaluating Zobrist's play. "It doesn't necessarily have to be numbers. Is the bat speed there? Is the ball coming off hot? Left side of the plate -- what's he doing there, compared to the right side? Just to know those kind of things, because we have different options. But, I really believe the way he's done it is the right way."

• Ahead of Saturday's 7-2 loss to the Nats, in which shortstop Javier Báez went 2-for-4, Maddon said, "more than anything the guy can definitely use a rest, and I've got to make sure that we stay on top of that."

Baez has a .178 average with a .475 OPS across his past 13 games.

• Right-hander , who has spent all season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, logged three innings in an Arizona League game on Thursday. Graveman struck out six of the 12 batters he faced and allowed one run on three hits.