Cubs receive good news on Nico Hoerner, Willson Contreras on road to recovery
When Nico Hoerner left his first rehab game in the middle of an at-bat, it was easy to assume the worst.
But Hoerner and the Cubs actually received good news Monday that the young infielder did not reinjure his oblique Sunday in Class-A South Bend. He will take a couple days off and resume baseball activities likely later this week.
From there, the team will determine when he restarts his rehab assignment.
“He felt a little bit of the tension in that area and shut it down,” David Ross said. “Smart move. I had an oblique [injury] early on in my career. It’s one of those things — until it’s completely healed, you don’t really know until you go out and play. He was smart.
“No re-injury, which is good. Got kinda good news today when the trainers all checked him out. Give him a couple days and get him back, hopefully on a rehab assignment maybe a week or two.”
It’s definitely better news than Hoerner or the Cubs were expecting Sunday night.
“His heart wants to be on that field and everything about him wanted to get back,” Ross said. “We’ll take this as a good lesson of try to be patient with the injuries and we’ll see ya back as soon as you’re healthy.”
This is the third time Hoerner has been on the IL this year. He hit the shelf in early May after a collision with Ian Happ in the Cincinnati outfield.
Hoerner then suffered a hamstring injury in late May and was on the IL until the July 4 weekend. He injured his oblique during the Cubs’ July 28 contest and has missed the last month recovering.
Add in the fact that Hoerner didn’t make the Opening Day roster out of spring training and it’s been quite the roller coaster for the 24-year-old this year.
In 39 games, Hoerner has a .313 batting average and .388 on-base percentage while playing above-average defense at second base. The Cubs plan on giving him plenty of run at shortstop when he does return, though that won’t be until September at the earliest now.
“There’s times when you’re doing the preparation to get back and get ready where you feel 100%,” Ross said. “To try to get to that point and put a lot of hard work in and then have a little bit of a hiccup is always frustrating but he’s a mentally strong guy. He’s just continuing to work and be patient and we’ll see him soon enough.”
It’s definitely been a frustrating year for Hoerner, but he’s trying to make the most of it and take in the lessons when he can.
“Learning to play baseball at this level is a lot about playing baseball and also just being available,” Hoerner said earlier this month. “If you’re not available, then the baseball side of it isn’t an option.
“No regrets on how I’ve been training or going about it but you kinda just take the things that happen and learn from it as best you can and apply it to future things.”
The good news for the Cubs is that Hoerner’s teammate, Willson Contreras (knee), might be back in the lineup as soon as this weekend.
Beginning Friday, the Cubs embark on a 5-game road trip to American League ballparks (White Sox, Twins), which affords Ross an opportunity to get Contreras’ bat back before he’s able to squat and catch a full game on the injured right knee.
“The ideal scenario is let’s see if he can hit and get around the bases and run hard and play free like that,” Ross said. “Then maybe we can bring him back a little bit earlier at some point and maybe hold off on catching to give him some extra days.”