Whether it’s the sight of Kyle Schwarber behind the plate for seven of 12 games or his career-long aversion to down time, Miguel Montero showed up to Chicago this week looking for a doctor to tell him he can start playing again.
The two-time All-Star the Cubs acquired from Arizona in December has been sidelined with a sprained left thumb since July 11, but after a week of hitting and working through the discomfort of using a mitt again, he’s scheduled to get examined Thursday to determine his playing status.
“So far it feels fairly good enough to start playing,” he said. “Obviously, if you wait for it to be 100 percent it’s going to be season-ending pretty much. But so far, so good. Let’s see and go from there.”
After his initial exam, the Cubs planned to shut Montero down for two weeks, then bring him back up to playing speed slowly. Too slowly for Montero, who sought a second opinion and started baseball activities after just one week.
“The doctor assured me that it was like any catcher – a chronic major-league catcher’s thumb is what it’s like,” Montero said. “If you shut it down, it’s going to heal, yeah, but it’s going to take forever.
“I shut it down for a week and then I started doing my things because he told me to: whatever you can do without hurting it, do it. And hitting was one of them that I never felt anything hitting.
“Catching feels OK,” said Montero, who caught two bullpens Tuesday. “Not the greatest. But it feels good enough to compete.”
Whether he gets the green light that he’s looking for Thursday, to at least start a rehab assignment, finding playing time could be a bigger challenge than before he got hurt – when he sat out Jon Lester starts and starts against opposing lefties, in favor of David Ross.
Schwarber’s hitting .357 with a 1.035 OPS in 19 games this season – 12-for-34 (.353) with two homers and eight walks in 13 games since his recall to replace Montero on the roster.
Montero just wants to get back on the active roster and try to give the team whatever help he can, he said.
“Just check with the doctor and maybe talk to the trainers and talk to [manager] Joe [Maddon] about it, and we’ll see,” Montero said. “In my own mind, I think I can go right now.”