The Cubs take a step Tuesday toward restoring their starting pitching depth when left-hander Brett Anderson throws a bullpen session for the first time since landing on the disabled list with a back strain.
“The back feels good. The arm feels strong,” said Anderson, whose diagnosis was a relief after having returned from two back surgeries in recent years. “I just know I was happy it was a different part of my back than my disk. That’s how I stay positive.
“[Tuesday] will be a big step. Get through the bullpen and go from there.”
Anderson, who signed an incentive-loaded one-year deal with the Cubs after an injury-filled career record, was expected to be an upgrade over 15-game winner Jason Hammel with good health.
But he struggled even before this relatively minor injury, and his timeline for a return could still be measured in weeks even without a setback.
When his two poor outings in May are removed, the rest of the Cubs’ rotation had a 3.32 ERA this month before John Lackey’s rough outing Monday – 2.98 the previous 10 games.
“I never really got into a rhythm in any of them,” said Anderson, who went on the DL May 7. “But I still have confidence in myself that when I’m healthy and everything’s right I can still [contribute] a lot. I’ve just got to get there.”
Anderson, who has an 8.18 ERA and averaging 3 2/3 innings in six starts, will work his way back through a minor-league rehab assignment. “But we haven’t put pencil to paper in regards to doing that yet,” manager Joe Maddon said of an uncertain timeline.
How Anderson might fit if, say, Eddie Butler or Mike Montgomery is pitching well in that rotation spot is just as uncertain.
“There’s so many different variables involved,” Maddon said. “For me the biggest thing is for him to be well, to go pitch and be pitching well, and then you’ll make that decision.”
Roster move du jour
The Cubs swapped out relievers to start the Giants series, optioning right-hander Dylan Floro back to the minors and calling up left-hander Zac Rosscup from Class AAA Iowa.
Rosscup, who missed all of last year with a shoulder injury that required a “clean-up” surgery, returns to the majors for the first time since making 33 appearances (4.39 ERA) for the Cubs in 2015. He had a 3.45 ERA in nine appearances for Iowa this season.
He said his only expectation this year was to be healthy again and stay that way.
“It’s incredible,” Rosscup, 28, said. “I like going out there every day knowing that my arm’s not going to feel like crap. The recovery’s been great, and just being able to compete again is unbelievable.”
Floro threw 37 pitches in two innings to finish a blowout victory over the Brewers on Sunday, including an ugly five-run ninth.
This and that
When Ben Zobrist tripled in the third, he extended to 20 his streak of games reaching base via hit or walk.
• To make room on the 40-man roster for Rosscup, right-hander Jake Buchanan was designated for assignment.