The words “hurry up and wait some more” sound about right.
With Chicago’s sports table all set for Ben Zobrist’s expected return to the big leagues Sunday against the Brewers at Wrigley Field, anticipation is understandably high. The 38-year-old 2016 World Series MVP — who must be officially activated by Saturday night to be eligible for the postseason — has been on unpaid leave since early May, tending to family issues amid a pending divorce.
But there’s a pretty good chance Zobrist, a switch hitter who is better from the left side, will watch from the bench Sunday as his team faces Brewers left-hander Gio Gonzalez. It could be more of the same Monday against Mariners lefty starter Justus Sheffield.
Mariners righty Felix Hernandez is lined up to face the Cubs on Tuesday. Before then, Zobrist, who was 7-for-37 (.189) with eight walks in four minor-league stops in August, could be on pinch-hitting duty only.
“Probably a slower break-in,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t want to throw too much, too soon. He’ll let me know exactly where he’s at. I’ll see it and then just try to make our best guesses after that.”
Maddon is hoping for a relatively normal Sunday, with Zobrist meeting the media, then blending back in as seamlessly as he can with teammates.
“I trust Zo in a moment like that,” he said. “How could you not? I’m sure he’s going to handle it really, really well. I don’t think the players are going to be as impacted just because of who he is and how he comports [himself]. They’ll support him. . . .
“We understand the fact that people are going to want to hear from him a bit, but I have so much faith, literally, in how he will handle the whole thing. I’m sure he’ll talk, and then it’ll be over.”