Cubs Notes: Suzuki, Madrigal, Schwindel, Stroman

The Cubs have a number of players on the injured list who are nearing their return. The closest to returning is rookie outfielder Seiya Suzukiwho could rejoin the club as early as tomorrow, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Suzuki was the man of the hour in April as his Major League career got off to a bang, slashing .279/.405/.529 across 84 plate appearances in March and April. May was less kind to Suzuki as he hit .211/.279/.338 across 79 plate appearances before landing on the injured list with a right finger sprain. Suzuki has been out for almost six weeks now.

Zooming out, the Cubs are taking stock of what kind of talent they have on hand this season, with Suzuki presumably a part of the long-term outfield picture, along with rookie Christopher Morel and veteran Ian Happ, though Morel and Happ both have enough versatility to move around the diamond a bit. Another piece of that long-term position player picture is second baseman Nick Madrigalwho plans on taking live batting practice on Tuesday, notes Bastian. Madrigal missed three weeks with a back issue and returned to the lineup for just under two weeks before landing back on the shelf with a groin strain that’s kept him out of action for another three weeks.

This season was supposed to be a time for Madrigal to establish himself along with Nico Hoerner as the middle infield of the future in Chicago. Madrigal wasn’t hitting much, with just a 45 wRC+ through 115 plate appearances. That said, he wasn’t having much batted ball luck (.264 BABIP). He was striking out a little more than usual – though with a 14.3 percent strikeout rate, he was still putting the ball in play far more often than the average Major Leaguer. It’s a small sample size on which to judge Madrigal, and the Cubs would love to see him return soon to start taking ABs back from David Bote and Andrelton Simmons.

First baseman Frank Schwindelwill join Madrigal for some batting practice on Tuesday as he aims to return from a couple of weeks away with a lower back strain. Swindel’s long-term role on The Cubs is less obvious, given that he’s already 30 years old, but he’s also not likely to be arbitration-eligible until the 2025 season. Schwindel could turn into an interesting trade piece, but he’ll have to hit better upon his return. Currently, Frank the Tank owns just an 83 wRC+ on the year. As a right-handed first baseman/designated hitter, Schwindel will need to hit in order to generate much value, be that on the diamond or in a trade.

On the other side of the ball, the Cubs have a pair of starting pitchers in Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly who will make rehab starts this week. Smyly begins his rehab with a start in Single-A on Monday, while Stroman is closer to returning to Wrigley, pitching for the Iowa Cubs in Triple-A. All of the Cubs’ veteran additions to the rotation have struggled to stay healthy this season, with Stroman and Smyly making nine starts apiece thus far, while Wade Miley has taken the hill just four times.

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