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Cubs receive good news on injury status of crucial pitcher

3 weeks agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs received some encouraging news on one of their crucial pitchers.

Ben Brown began throwing Tuesday for the first time since he landed on the IL on June 9. It’s a big step for the rookie righty, who initially was injured with a left neck strain, that manager Craig Counsell categorized as a “stress reaction.”

But, as Brown has undergone more testing, the reports have been positive, the injury not as severe as once thought.

“There was something in the X-rays that first looked concerning to the doctors and then after looking at it further, wasn’t concerning,” Counsell said Wednesday morning. “It was something that created symptoms that’s kind of … going away, I guess. Not a cyst. They called it a lesion.”

“Moving forward, Ben is going to continue baseball activities and as tolerated, kind of go forward. So, he threw yesterday, that’s good. He’s not symptom-free, but the initial diagnosis is not something we’re operating under right now, which is good news.”

That could open the door for an earlier return for the righty, who has been a key fixture for the Cubs pitching staff.

Through 15 games (8 starts) Brown has a 3.58 ERA and 1.08 WHIP across 55.1 innings. He’s been a solid starter for the Cubs and has shown the ability to pitch out of the bullpen and pick up outs for Counsell.

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For now, though, the Cubs will still play it safe with his return. The team was always going to manage his innings and have a cap on his workload in 2024. This rehab will allow them to keep those innings in check, while still serving a role for Counsell.

“We’re hoping that symptoms just continue to just kind of decrease and that activity really doesn’t do anything [to] it,” Counsell said. “But we got to use how he’s feeling to guide us forward a little bit.”

The news wasn’t so positive on another key pitcher.

Yency Almonte (right shoulder strain) threw a live batting practice session Tuesday in South Bend, but there were still some concerns after it and won’t be going on a rehab assignment just yet.

“It went okay,” Counsell said. “We’re not going to move on to the next step. We’re going to continue kind of with not rehab games and build up a little more strength. Going to keep throwing, but kind of keep building up some strength.”

It’s a setback for the righty, who was developing into a trusted arm for Counsell in what has turned out to be a volatile bullpen this season.

The 30-year-old had a 3.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 17 appearances, but after posting an 18.00 across his first four games, he had a 1.32 ERA with 19 strikeouts over his last 13.2 innings.

His absence has been felt since he was injured. The Cubs bullpen has a 4.53 ERA this season, 25th in the majors and has struggled to find dependable arms all season.  

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