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Cubs activate OF Ian Happ from injured list

Infielder Ildemaro Vargas was designated for assignment to make room on the 26-man roster.

AP Photo/Ashley Landis

DETROIT — The Cubs activated outfielder Ian Happ from the 10-day injured list on Saturday, and he hit sixth and played center field. Infielder Ildemaro Vargas was designated for assignment to make room on the 26-man roster.

Happ went on the IL with a left rib bruise after colliding with infielder Nico Hoerner on May 2 and while they each ended up on the IL, the Cubs avoided serious injury with both players.

“It’s been slower than I hoped, but a lot of progress in the last four or five days,” Happ said before the Cubs’ 9-8 loss. “Luckily, we had some off-days in there, so I didn’t miss too many games. But happy to be back and happy to be able to contribute again.

“Your rib cage isn’t something that’s gonna heal overnight. It’s not something that you can snap your fingers and make better. Not like anything that I’ve ever had before that. It’s healing a bruise and that takes time. But I feel great.”

Happ’s return from the IL gets the lineup closer to full strength, with only outfielder Jake Marisnick on the shelf with a right hamstring strain. Manager David Ross has plenty of options, especially in the outfield.

Kris Bryant has taken most of his defensive reps this season in the outfield, but will likely get back to playing third base regularly. Joc Pederson’s offensive resurgence makes it tough to keep his bat out of the lineup.

“Part of the job of managing is keeping guys fresh and healthy,” Ross said. “When guys are swinging the bat really well, finding a spot for them. So we’ll find a spot for Kris, for sure. It is on my radar. It’d be nice to find good matchups for [Jason Heyward], Joc and [Ian].

“Then when Jake gets back all those things are kind of just an ebb and flow of giving guys days off as well if there’s maybe a matchup that we like better from a guy that really handles lefties well or doesn’t handle righties or vice versa.”

He said it

“He’s on a nice hot streak right now. . . . When he can kind of open up that left side of the field, when they’re playing the shift, that’s gonna play well for him. He’s right on top of the plate too, so then you kind of get in the pitcher’s head a little bit. They’re more likely to kind of miss away in a spot that he wants the ball. So he’s kind of forcing their hand to kind of pitch him where he wants them to.” — Bryant on Pederson’s hot streak.