There isn’t a day that goes by that left-hander Drew Smyly doesn’t envision himself pitching for the Cubs.
“I daydream about it every day,” said Smyly, who missed all of the 2017 season after Tommy John surgery. “The day I set foot on the Wrigley mound is going to be an exciting day for me, just with how many hurdles I’ve had to overcome.”
Smyly has progressed to throwing off the mound to hitters but isn’t quite there yet.
“I’m healthy, but I’m not ready to pitch every five days or every couple of days as a reliever,” Smyly, 29, said. “The holdup is just the recovery, the bounce-back.
“That’s my last hurdle to get over. I’m just not really responding the way I want. I would love to get out there as fast as possible, but your arm doesn’t really allow you to do it. I just have to go with the way my body tells me.”
Smyly’s body is telling him it’s too soon.
“I could probably go throw every 10 days, but that’s not doing anybody any good,” he said.
“I think major-league average is 15 or 16 months [recovery] nowadays for Tommy John, and I’m at 13. I’m still very hopeful I’ll get into a game by another month or so.”
The Cubs, who signed Smyly to a two-year, $10 million free-agent contract Dec. 12, are hopeful, as well.
Smyly has a career ERA of 3.74 and 552 strikeouts in 570„ innings and could be a valuable addition in the latter stages of the season.
“I know Drew really well, and I know how good it is,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s enticing. You’d love to see it happen, but let’s just get him well first.”
For now, Smyly will continue to throw batting practice before eventually taking a minor-league rehab assignment.
“It’s tough, but there are still two months left plus October, so there is plenty of time to get in games,” he said.