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Cubs’ Russell eyes return from foot injury in time for September push

Addison Russell in July.

CINCINNATI — Injured Cubs shortstop Addison Russell took a significant step toward returning from the disabled list Tuesday and said he expects to back in less than two weeks.

“Maybe a week and a half at the most,” said Russell, who has been on the DL since Aug. 3 because of plantar fasciitis in his right foot. “We’re not too far out. Maybe even before that.”

Russell stayed in Chicago to rehab during the team’s previous road trip. But he joined the team for this trip, taking grounders at short during early work and taking regular batting practice on the field with the team for the first time since the injury.

“I did pretty much everything I wanted my brain to do today, coming out kind of explosive,” Russell said. “In the back of my mind, I’m moving in the right direction, kind of quicker than anticipated. We’ll just keep on this progression and we’ll see where we’re at.”

The team still hasn’t set a timeline for Russell’s return.

“It’s starting to feel like my normal foot right now,” said Russell, an All-Star starter last year. “Then again, you don’t want to jump the gun. In the next couple days, we’re definitely going to monitor it even more. But we’re climbing that ladder, and now we’re getting closer.”

Javy Baez has been the regular shortstop in Russell’s absence, averaging .290 with seven homers, 19 RBI and a .966 OPS in 18 games this month entering Tuesday.

“The experience he’s gaining right now by playing as often as he is, is invaluable moving forward,” manager Joe Maddon said of Baez. “This might accelerate Javy’s development even more.”

Contreras update

Catcher Willson Contreras, who has been on the DL the last two weeks with an injured right hamstring, ran aggressively in drills before Tuesday’s game, but Maddon cautioned against assuming an early return. The Cubs consider Contreras in the early stages of activity after he was shut down to allow inflammation and pain to subside. No target date for a return has been determined.

“He’s running pretty good, and I know he’s feeling pretty good, but I don’t want him to go too quickly, either,” Maddon said. “You’ve got to be careful with those kinds of injuries.

“I don’t want to get over-exuberant about it. I want to make sure that he does this properly and we have no setbacks.”

No coupe for you!

Ben Zobrist was in the lineup at second base Tuesday — until a car-rental snafu delayed his departure for Cincinnati after he spent the day off at his home in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Zo ran into a ‘Seinfeld’ episode today,” Maddon said. “He had a reservation for a vehicle in Nashville. When he got there, they failed to hold the reservation. Thus, he was late getting his vehicle; thus, he got caught in traffic.”

Zobrist arrived about an hour before game time and was available off the bench. Ian Happ replaced him in the lineup and grounded out and struck out in his first two at-bats. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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