Cubs pitcher Brown diagnosed with stress reaction in neck

Cubs pitcher Ben Brown, who went on the injured list Tuesday, will be out for a while.

Manager Craig Counsell said the rookie pitcher was diagnosed with a stress reaction in his neck. A stress reaction is basically swelling or weakening of a bone, without an actual break. It can sometimes precede a stress fracture.

“We don't have all the answers yet on Ben,” Counsell said before Friday's game. “We're still trying to figure out exactly how long and what it means and what he can do.

“It's a unique injury, a little bit of a rare injury for a pitcher. So we're trying to just get some more opinions and figure out exactly what's next for him.”

Stress fractures or stress reactions are more common in the feet or legs as a running injury. When Brown went on the injured list, the Cubs called it a left neck strain.

“Ben will tell you he does not know (how it happened),” Counsell said. “He has no idea when it happened. It manifests itself as a stiff neck, which is fairly benign and normal-feeling. That just didn't get better.”

Brown has been a bright spot for the Cubs this season, posting a 3.58 ERA overall and 3.23 in eight games as a starter.

The injury news got worse for the Cubs when Friday's starting pitcher Jordan Wicks left the game with two outs in the second inning with right oblique discomfort.

Quick turnaround:

Friday afternoon home games are a tradition for the Cubs. But this game against the Cardinals came after playing at night in Tampa Bay on Thursday. A staff member said the team arrived back in Chicago around 1 a.m.

“I think we all love the Friday day games,” manager Craig Counsell said. “But sometimes the schedule gets you a little bit.”

The Cubs wore their “Wrigleyville” alternate uniforms for the first time this season Friday.

Around the horn:

Injured Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras did not make the trip to his old home this weekend. He was expected to take batting practice Friday in St. Louis for the first time since suffering a broken left arm on May 8. He's on track to return in early July. …

The Cubs scored 2 runs (their only 2 runs) by bunting three times in a row on Thursday against the Rays. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Cubs hadn't bunted three time in an inning since 2001.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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