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José Quintana throws bullpen session, inches closer to return to Cubs

2 weeks agoAndy Martinez

José Quintana is back on the mound.

The Colombian lefty pitched his first bullpen session Wednesday afternoon, throwing 28 pitches, as he works to return from a thumb laceration he suffered prior to the start of summer camp.

Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy watched Quintana’s bullpen at Wrigley Field via a FaceTime video call, as he was 300 miles away in Cincinnati.

“He looked good, threw 28 pitches, was able to work on everything,” Hottovy said.  Threw some breaking balls, some changeups, so really good. [This is] what I would consider his first like real, real bullpen where he got to work on everything, so that was a real positive.”

Quintana felt well after the bullpen session and felt no pain in his thumb.

“Every once in a while, it’s just you feel like the release point is off and I wouldn’t attribute that at all to the hand stuff, I think that’s just more getting off the mound, getting the rhythm,” Hottovy said. “He feels good. He’s in a very positive mood.”

The next step in Quintana’s return to the Cubs pitching staff is having a gameday-like warm up and throwing a semi-live bullpen session, with a hitter standing in the box, tracking pitches. That would give Hottovy a chance to see how Quintana moves with hitters standing in the box. Hottovy hopes to have that next bullpen session on Saturday. 

There’s not much building up from a pitch-count point of view. It’s just about ramping up the intensity for him.

“Not really concerned with him physically, because I think arm-wise, body-wise, he was in a really good place coming into that summer camp,” Hottovy said. “Now it’s more about, OK let’s see how his hand is feeling, let’s see how the fine tuning of all the things, the placement of the pitches, the shape of the pitches, how he’s able to command the baseball. I think once he gets comfortable doing that, you’ll see start to pick up fairly quickly.”

Then it gives David Ross and Hottovy a nice headache in terms of when and where to insert Quintana when he is available to return.

The Cubs starting rotation has pitched to a 1.80 ERA and 0.63 WHIP in 30 innings.

“Q’s a big loss for us and the fact that things are going really well so far, is super exciting,” Ross said. “That’ll be a nice problem to have when he gets the ability to pitch again and get back to where he was.”

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