Cubs’ Matt Swarmer optioned to Triple-A Iowa, Daniel Norris activated; Kyle Hendricks has long road ahead

Cubs rookie Ethan Roberts underwent Tommy John surgery Wednesday.

SHARE Cubs’ Matt Swarmer optioned to Triple-A Iowa, Daniel Norris activated; Kyle Hendricks has long road ahead
The Cubs optioned right-hander Matt Swarmer to Triple-A, making room for Daniel Norris to be activated on Wednesday.

The Cubs optioned right-hander Matt Swarmer to Triple-A, making room for Daniel Norris to be activated on Wednesday.

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Cubs rookie Matt Swarmer is headed back to Triple-A Iowa, this time with a bullpen role in focus.

‘‘There’s growth there,’’ manager David Ross said about his impression of Swarmer. ‘‘He’s still very young in his career. And he’s got to evolve like everybody else — come up, learn how hard it is to be able to land that slider for a strike consistently out of the bullpen.’’

Optioning Swarmer to Iowa after their 4-2 loss Tuesday to the Orioles enabled the Cubs to clear space on the active roster for reliever Daniel Norris (strained left index finger), who came off the 15-day injured list Wednesday.

Swarmer, 28, climbed through the Cubs’ farm system as a starter and made his big-league debut as a rotation fill-in in late May. He had mixed results in five starts, then made the transition into a relief role.

‘‘I was definitely surprised at first,’’ Swarmer told the Sun-Times a couple of weeks ago. ‘‘But it’s just a game of adjustments. I’ve got to just get ready faster for these relief appearances.’’

Swarmer uses mostly two pitches, which is more common for relievers than starters at the major-league level. But his ability to manipulate his slider makes it behave almost like two different pitches.

‘‘That’s his money pitch,’’ Ross said. ‘‘He’s got to be able to land that [in the strike zone] at will. And sometimes when you can’t do that, you’re going to get exposed, especially against teams that don’t chase outside of the zone.’’

Hendricks will be awhile

It will be ‘‘a little bit’’ before veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks returns from the 15-day IL, Ross said. He didn’t have an exact timeline, but he estimated Hendricks (strained right shoulder) would need at least two to three weeks of rest and rehabilitation before he even started playing catch.

Hendricks is one of two Cubs starters still on the mend as the All-Star break approaches. Left-hander Wade Miley continues to progress in his throwing program — he was scheduled to play light catch Wednesday — after shutting things down in recent weeks.

Roberts has Tommy John surgery

Rookie right-hander Ethan Roberts had successful Tommy John surgery in Arlington, Texas, the Cubs said.

‘‘He’s such a good kid,’’ pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said last month, when the Cubs announced Roberts was heading for surgery. ‘‘He’s going to come back from this great, and we still expect really big things from him in the future.’’

Roberts claimed a spot on the Opening Day roster but landed on the IL with inflammation in his right shoulder in late April. In his first rehab outing from that injury, Roberts tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Madrigal slowed

After leaving his last rehab outing with tightness in his groin, second baseman Nick Madrigal (strained left groin) will remain in Chicago this week. He’ll use the time before the All-Star break to build up extra strength, the team said.

‘‘I think he caught it in time,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I don’t think there’s anything really pressing that he has to take a ton of time off [for].’’

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