Cubs News

Amid injury-marred season, Nick Madrigal knows he has a lot to prove with Cubs

2 years agoTony Andracki

When Nick Madrigal came out of Friday’s game with an injury, it was certainly a familiar feeling.

The 25-year-old second baseman has struggled to stay healthy in his first year with the Cubs.

When he was traded from the White Sox to the North Side last summer, Madrigal was already out for the season with a torn hamstring that required surgery. This season, he missed most of May with a low back strain then was sidelined from mid-June until Aug. 4 with a left groin strain.

Friday’s injury was another groin strain — but on the opposite side. The Cubs placed Madrigal on the 10-day IL this weekend.

“Just frustration,” Madrigal said. “Running down the line, getting closer to the bag, I felt something. I immediately knew what it was. It wasn’t as bad as when I did it earlier in the year. It was about half of it.

“I was optimistic that it was maybe a little bit of a tweak but I knew something good enough to at least get out of the game. Once we got some imaging done, we saw pretty much what I felt — it was about half as bad as the first time, so that’s a positive note.”

For now, Madrigal is going to rest and then he and the Cubs will reassess later this week or early next week.

There is no timeline currently but he is hopeful he can still return this year — though he understands the calendar is working against him with only three-and-a-half weeks left in the Cubs schedule.

“I would love to get back,” Madrigal said. “Anytime I’m out there with the guys, I feel like I still have things to prove and want to prove.

“But I know there’s another side of it about being smart. If it’s not feeling right, I’m probably not gonna get in there. I would love to but we’re just gonna have to see how it goes.”

If it is the end of Madrigal’s debut season in a Cubs uniform, his final batting line looks like this:

.249/.305/.282 (.588 OPS), 7 doubles, 7 RBI, 19 runs, 3 stolen bases in 59 games.

But part of that is a slow start to the season where he admitted he wasn’t in a rhythm as he recovered from the major hamstring injury.

Since he returned from the IL in early August, Madrigal looked more like the player he had shown earlier in his career. In 28 games before this latest injury, Madrigal was hitting .277 with a .438 on-base percentage and he walked (9) almost as much as he struck out (10) in 113 plate appearances.

If Madrigal is not able to make it back in 2022, he will have missed 236 games in his first 3 MLB seasons.

He is a former 1st-round pick (4th overall in 2018) and top prospect who has already shown flashes of success at the big league level. But as the old adage goes, the best ability is availability and Madrigal understands he has some work to do in that area.

“It’s gonna be the biggest offseason I’ve had the last couple years,” Madrigal said. “I’m gonna be doing some major changes. Obviously my body’s out of whack right now, just with all these injuries popping up. I’ve been talking to some people that are gonna help and just excited that I know we got the rest of this year, but it’s gonna be a big offseason.

“It’s something that it’s gonna be needing a lot of changes but I’m up for the work. I can’t wait to come back. I can’t imagine how good I’ll be feeling by this time next year. There are a lot of problems right now so the fact that I’m out there kinda managing them, I can’t wait to be playing a lot healthier.”

Madrigal hasn’t finalized any specific changes for his offseason plan just yet but he is working with Cubs coaches and has picked the brains of teammates — including Nico Hoerner, who dealt with injuries earlier in his career before turning in a mostly healthy season this year.

Madrigal is looking “from top to bottom” in overhauling his offseason plan, including nutrition and strength.

“This last year, I know it’s been a lot of negative times and things that happened,” Madrigal said. “But I have figured out a lot about my body and the direction and things we need to clean up heading into next year.”

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