Cubs News

Cubs injury updates: Patrick Wisdom, Justin Steele and light at the end of the tunnel for Wade Miley

2 years agoTony Andracki

MILWAUKEE — Wade Miley doesn’t feel like he has a choice.

If he wants to keep playing baseball past this year — and he does — he feels like there is only one option for him: Keep trying to make it back.

The 35-year-old starting pitcher has been on the injured list since June 11 with a left shoulder strain. Even though there’s only a little more than weeks left in the season, he is still grinding to get back on a big league mound. He refuses to pack it in and call it a year.

“I ain’t got no choice,” Miley said Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee after throwing a 28-pitch bullpen. “I’m not going to shut it down. If I want to keep playing baseball after this year, I need to go prove to people that I’m not broke.

“I don’t feel like I’m broke by any means. Everything structurally looks good. I just need to clean a few things up.”

Miley has had “so many images on this shoulder, it ain’t even funny.” But the Cubs can’t figure out why he’s still experiencing pain and a “catching” sensation in his shoulder.

After his start in New York on June 10, Miley went for an MRI that showed a Grade 2 tear in the subscapularis — a muscle in the rotator cuff near the armpit. The pain for Miley was coming in the back of the shoulder, but the thought was the pain might stem from the tear.

“So that’s what we treated and after the subscap’s completely healed, I still get the same pain,” Miley said. “That’s where things get confusing.”

Miley mostly feels his shoulder catch at the end of his delivery. He wants to make sure it doesn’t cause him to throw differently which leads to a worse injury.

It’s been a year of starts and stops for the veteran southpaw. He was slowed in Spring Training with an elbow injury and eventually landed on the IL before the start of the regular season.

Miley returned May 10 and made 3 starts — including May 16 when he tossed 7 shutout innings at Wrigley Field. He was placed on the IL again in late May with a shoulder strain and his 3-inning start against the Yankees on June 10 has been his only appearance since then.

[MORE: Ace of Spades: Despite injury, Wade Miley has made an impact in the clubhouse thanks to a unique new Cubs tradition]

In total, Miley has thrown 19 innings in 4 starts, pitching to a 2.84 ERA. The Cubs hoped he would be a reliable member of the rotation after they claimed him off waivers in November following a 2021 season in which he was 12-7 with a 3.37 ERA in 163 innings with the Reds.

“It’s miserable watching,” Miley said. “I love coming to the ballpark; I love doing this. Not being able to take part in it, each day that goes by was getting harder and harder.

“But now I feel like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel so it’s a little more exciting to come here.”

Miley and the Cubs haven’t discussed what the next steps are after Saturday’s bullpen. He said he’s ready to start Sunday if need be but anticipates one more bullpen and then a rehab outing in South Bend or Iowa.

Patrick Wisdom and Alfonso Rivas

Before Saturday’s game, the Cubs placed infielder Patrick Wisdom on the 10-day IL with a left ring finger sprain. He suffered the injury sliding into home last weekend at Wrigley Field and has appeared in only 3 games since.

“He subluxed it the other day,” David Ross said. “Pretty swollen. Tried to stay away from him, give him some rest. It’s coming back slowly.

“I think it makes a lot of sense with where he’s at just to IL him, give him a little bit of a breather and expect him back on the back end of his 10 days. With the off-days we’ve got coming up and Toronto, it just made a lot of sense.”

The Cubs tabbed Alfonso Rivas as the replacement for Wisdom, who has spent most of his time at first base since the trade deadline.

The 25-year-old Rivas made the Opening Day roster but has spent the year vacillating back and forth between the majors and Triple-A Iowa. He got the start at first base Saturday and singled off Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff.

In total, Rivas is hitting .232 with a .630 OPS in 72 big league games this season with 3 homers and 24 RBI.

Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson

Justin Steele exited Friday night’s start in the 6th inning with low back tightness. After the game, he said it felt looser after receiving treatment and he was in a better place Saturday.

Still, the Cubs don’t anticipate Steele taking the mound again until next weekend in St. Louis at the earliest.

“Steele feels great today,” Ross said. “I think it really was just some low back tightness, whatever that was from. We’ll get through Toronto, we’ve got an off-day after Toronto.

“We’ll probably reassess the rotation, just try to maybe line things up where everybody gets the proper amount of rest.”

The Cubs have been looking to monitor Steele’s workload down the stretch anyways, as he is at a career-high 119 innings this season.

Adrian Sampson is starting Sunday for the series finale in Milwaukee, so the team will likely roll out Javier Assad, Marcus Stroman and Luke Farrell in Toronto.

Meanwhile, Keegan Thompson threw a bullpen Saturday. He was placed on the 15-day IL Aug. 20 with low back tightness. The Cubs will also be cautious with his workload down the stretch.

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