Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward needed to get to the point where his jammed right index finger wasn’t an issue before he could declare himself ready to play.
On Friday, he did just that.
“I’m playing tomorrow,” Heyward said before the Cubs’ 6-3 loss to the Brewers on Friday at Wrigley Field.
Heyward went 1-for-3 with an RBI single for Class A South Bend on Thursday. Heyward, who has been out since May 5, when he injured himself against the Yankees, is expected to be activated from the disabled list Saturday.
The Cubs face a difficult decision about whom to send to Class AAA Iowa to make room for Heyward. Heyward said he still is experiencing some minor soreness but feels good enough to return without worrying about the injury worsening.
Heyward said the minor-league start went better than expected.
“I needed to go up there and swing the bat and do that worry-free and play the game and adjust,” Heyward said. “Just go up there and worry about timing, things like that, get comfortable and then play the game and not think about my hand at all, which I was able to do.”
Manager Joe Maddon said no decision has been made regarding whom the Cubs will send down. Ian Happ went 1-for-4 and scored as he continued his impressive run since being called up. The other logical candidate to be sent to Iowa, Tommy La Stella, was inserted as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning and walked in his only at-bat.
Maddon, who said the roster move likely won’t involve a pitcher, said the decision won’t be easy.
“That’s what happens when you’re good — you have tough decisions,” he said. “We have a lot of different options. The fact that Ian’s come up and done so well makes it more difficult. We’ll try to figure it out and make our best guess.”
Maddon was asked if it makes more sense to send Happ to Iowa, where he could play daily.
“He could benefit from playing regularly in the majors,” Maddon said. “He’s definitely the kind of guy you don’t want sitting around.”
Reliever Pierce Johnson made his major-league debut, allowing two unearned runs and two hits in one inning. He entered in the sixth inning, which was interrupted by a rain delay of 1 hour, 59 minutes.
Johnson tried to stay loose by riding an exercise bike during the delay, which came after he emerged from the bullpen not knowing how bad the weather was.
“The wind hit me and the rain, and I think my glasses fogged up a little bit,” Johnson said. “It was definitely interesting. I said, ‘Well, this is how it’s going to happen.’ But I embraced it.”
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