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Cubs’ injury updates make Joe Maddon feel good

Jon Lester leaves the game in the second inning against the Reds on Aug. 17.
| David Banks/AP

PHILADELPHIA — The Cubs got enough news of progress about their injured players Friday that manager Joe Maddon described a vision of September that begins with key players returning from the disabled list and finishes with a team at full strength.

‘‘In my mind’s eye, we have this chance to really have this come together properly at the exact right time,’’ Maddon said before the Cubs opened a three-game series against the Phillies.

The updates included left-hander Jon Lester throwing from a mound for the first time since lat tightness and shoulder fatigue landed him on the DL last week.

‘‘He did really well,’’ Maddon said of a 42-pitch bullpen session that matched the duration and intensity of Lester’s typical between-starts sessions.

Next up is a simulated game Monday at Wrigley Field, after which Lester might be able to set a timeline for a return to the rotation.

‘‘Everything’s pointing in the right direction right now, so hopefully he’ll be back relatively soon,’’ Maddon said.

Shortstop Addison Russell, who has missed a month with a foot injury, might be on a similar early-September timeline after looking good during intense pregame work Friday. He has a more moderate work schedule for Saturday and a rest day Sunday and might be scheduled for a brief minor-league rehab assignment by Monday.

Reliever Justin Grimm (finger) is expected back during that same stretch in early September, and catcher Willson Contreras (hamstring), who was able to handle catching drills Friday, might be a week or so behind the rest.

‘‘Yeah, the band could be back together relatively [soon],’’ Maddon said. ‘‘Sooner than we anticipated, possibly.’’

All about that base

Less than 24 hours after suggesting Jon Jay was running on his own when he was caught stealing in the ninth inning Thursday against the Reds, Maddon took the blame, saying Jay got a sign from the bench.

‘‘It’s my fault, nobody else’s,’’ said Maddon, who indicated he learned the ill-conceived steal attempt with the Cubs trailing by two runs came after a sign from bench coach Davey Martinez.

Maddon said Martinez looked for cues and followed protocol for the situation (the runner wasn’t held at first, a chance to stay out of a double play, etc.), and he didn’t stop the process.

‘‘Don’t blame Jonny at all for this one, not at all,’’ Maddon said. ‘‘That was our fault. . . . It’s up to me to say not to do anything.’’

Jay declined to discuss the play, saying only that it didn’t matter because it was in the past.

To dye for

The mystery of Maddon’s increasingly darkening hair has been solved.

‘‘It’s actually shampoo that does this,’’ he said of the Just For Men product. ‘‘This is four or five applications now. I’m going to do it again tonight and see where it takes me.’’

Whispers about Maddon coloring his hair began during the last homestand, when some media members saw him without his hat and noticed his hair had gone from white to a shade of gray.

‘‘I’ve got to see my stylist, Fred, when I get back home,’’ a smiling Maddon said. ‘‘I was thinking about getting the tips frosted somehow.’’

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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