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Cubs, Ben Zobrist mull next stop on comeback trail

Zobrist went 2-for-9 with a walk and run scored for Class A South Bend over the weekend in his first games since taking personal leave in May to take care of issues related to his pending divorce.

Zobrist signs for fans before a game at South Bend over the weekend.
Madeline Kenney photo

After a healthy weekend of game action for the first time since May, Cubs veteran hitter Ben Zobrist went home to work out and discuss his next minor-league stint with Cubs officials.

Whether it’s a few days or a week before his next game wasn’t even clear on Monday afternoon, the day after Zobrist went 2-for-9 with a walk and run scored in three starts for Class A South Bend over the weekend.

“That’s what we’re still trying to figure out,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “There’s probably some recovery issues and some family stuff. … We’ve said all along this is going to be pretty fluid.

“We’ll figure out the next stint in the next couple of days.”

Zobrist, 38, hasn’t played a big-league game since May 6, after which he took a personal leave to take care of issues related to his pending divorce. He has been on the restricted list since.

Team president Theo Epstein said Friday that Zobrist plans to spend August working out and making multiple minor-league stops in a spring-like buildup to prepare for a return to the big-league club for the final month.


Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber, the former, sketchy pro catcher, grabbed his catcher’s mitt almost as soon as Contreras went on the injured list Sunday and was ready for emergency work – and then some.

“Oh, he wants to play, man,” Maddon said. “He came in after the game [Sunday] talking to me about actually starting a game. He’s ready to roll.”

Schwarber is considered the third – in-case-of-emergency-only – catcher.

Notes: Longtime setup man Pedro Strop (neck) is eligible to return from the IL on Tuesday, and team officials say they’ll decide then on a next step for him, which could mean a minor-league rehab appearance this week before being activated. ... Closer Craig Kimbrel had surgery for damaged meniscus in 2016, but his inflammation that put him on the IL on Monday was in the other knee. He had converted nine of 11 saves with the Cubs until then. “I was feeling really good,” he said. ... Reliever Brad Brach, who was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Cole Hamels’ return from the IL, cleared waivers and was released, the team said Monday.