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Cubs add bullpen help, get good news on Stroman and Fulmer

10 months agoTony Andracki

The Cubs added a reliever and received a dose of good news on the injury front Tuesday evening.

José Cuas was placed on the bereavement list and in his place, the Cubs added left-handed pitcher Anthony Kay.

Marcus Stroman underwent an exam in Chicago on Tuesday that showed his rib cartilage continues to heal. Stroman has been doing light activity and will continue to progress as long as he can tolerate it, though the Cubs do not have a firm timeline.

“It’s great, it’s healing,” David Ross said. “Was able to do a little bit of activity. I don’t think anybody’s jumping for joy like he’s out there throwing bullpens yet. He’s starting to move around. It’s feeling better.

“He’s starting to be able to do activities so where it goes from here now is the real important thing. Let’s check back in in a week or so and see where we’re at from there. Right now, he’s feeling better. It’s healing and he’s able to do more than the initial few days it was apparently pretty painful.”

Stroman has already missed a month and Ross admitted he does not know how long it would take the veteran right-hander to get built back up to rejoin the rotation.

The regular season ends in four-and-a-half weeks, which doesn’t leave much time for Stroman to return especially given that he has not yet begun a throwing program.

“Think about, they gotta start playing catch again and build the arm strength back up,” Ross said. “Realistically, you’re probably close to a month away. It’s a haul.

“I would say this individual in Marcus is as strong and hard-working and put-together as probably anybody that you can think can come back from that. Probably what he’s able to tolerate when he starts to do work, how much it affects him and is he effective? He wasn’t very effective before he went on [the IL] so getting him back and being good is also part of the equation.”

Stroman had a 9.00 ERA in his last 7 starts before landing on the IL. The Cubs have filled his spot in the rotation with Javier Assad, who has pitched well over the last month (2.48 ERA in 5 starts).

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Reliever Michael Fulmer also underwent an exam on his injured forearm Tuesday and the Cubs are optimistic he can return from the IL when first eligible on Sept. 8.

Justin Steele dealt with the same issue in June and missed only a couple of weeks before rejoining the Cubs rotation.

“Yeah, I think as good of news as we can expect,” Ross said. “That’s great. He’ll get a couple more days and then start his throwing program back.

“It seems like things are moving in the right direction, just calming that down is gonna be the key. I kinda compared it to Steeley and hopefully that timeframe, that path back would be ideal.”

Kay spent several months with the big-league club earlier this season and appeared in 13 games, pitching to a 6.35 ERA.

Meanwhile, Brad Boxberger continues to rehab with Triple-A Iowa and Brandon Hughes will throw a second live BP session in the next few days. Nick Burdi will resume throwing this week, as well.

Boxberger has been on the IL since May 14 with a forearm strain. He signed a free-agent deal in the offseason with the idea that he would be a part of the back end of the bullpen.

The 35-year-old had a 5.52 ERA, 2 saves and a hold in 17 appearances before landing on the IL. He has a 3.51 ERA and 84 saves over his career.

Hughes was one of the best stories of the season for the Cubs in 2022, emerging as a high-leverage left-handed reliever. He has been plagued by a knee injury all year that has limited him to only 17 games.

Burdi, an Illinois native, made 3 appearances with the Cubs in May before needing to undergo an appendectomy. He threw a 101 mph pitch during one of his outings:

He has been sidelined since May 21 and as he worked his way back, hit pause on rehab with ulnar nerve irritation.

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