Cubs' injury news mostly good as Rizzo, Kimbrel, Russell come back
The flurry of Chicago Cubs injury news was mostly good Thursday heading into their crucial series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Anthony Rizzo's ankle had him feeling well enough to start at first base, four days after going down with an ankle sprain and he homered in his second at-bat.
Addison Russell was activated off the concussion injured list, and closer Craig Kimbrel came off the injured list after nursing an inflamed elbow.
But there was area of concern for the Cubs: Left-handed pitcher Cole Hamels is experiencing left-shoulder fatigue, and he will not make Saturday's scheduled start. Instead, the Cubs will shift lefty Jose Quintana from Friday to Saturday and slot right-hander Alex Mills into Friday's start to oppose the Cardinals' Michael Wacha.
Hamels earlier this year was on the IL with an oblique strain. The Cubs are hopeful he can start next week, either during the midweek series at Pittsburgh or in the weekend series at St. Louis.
"I shouldn't say 'heavily concerned,' but anytime a guy like that said it's bothering him a bit, you have to absolutely believe it, especially at this time of the year, how much he loves to compete and play right now," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Hamels. "There's always some concern with that. We'll just take his word and what the doctors have to say and then try to get him back as quickly as possible. If Cole says he's hurting, he's hurting."
Baez bouncing back:
Shortstop Javier Baez has resumed what the Cubs say are "light baseball activities" has he recovers from a hairline fracture of his left thumb.
Baez was cleared to pinch run as early as Thursday. The Cubs planned to equip him with a protective mitt to wear for running the bases. Joe Maddon said he would not have Baez change from headfirst sliding to feet-first sliding.
Extra day for Quintana:
With Cole Hamels missing a turn in the rotation, the Cubs took the opportunity to give Jose Quintana one day extra of rest. Quintana lasted only 2⅓ innings in his last start and 3 innings in the start before that.
"Alec (Mills) has been pitching well and it gives Q one extra day off," Joe Maddon said. "Those things are in a way positive that we could fit it in this way. Having Alec throwing as well as he has, it fit in there and not have to take (Tyler) Chatwood out of the role that we've got him in right now is also very helpful because you saw what Tyler did (Wednesday) night (struck out the side)."