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Nico Hoerner increasing baseball activities, could be nearing rehab stint

Hoerner is slashing .338/.405/.432 in 21 games this season.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — The Cubs haven’t been the same since second baseman Nico Hoerner went down with a strained left hamstring at the end of May. The correlation between his presence in the lineup and their success in May on both offense and defense can’t be understated.

Now, almost a month after Hoerner landed on the injured list, he and the Cubs are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

Hoerner has dramatically increased his baseball activity over the last few weeks as he continues work back. On Thursday, he stood in and saw pitches during starter Trevor Williams’ bullpen session. He also ran the bases for the second day in a row — a big step before a rehab assignment and eventual return.

“I don’t have a [return] day, but it’s getting better for sure,” Hoerner said. “Still progressing. It was a four-to-six-week injury, and four weeks was Tuesday. So I think we’re at the right pace.”

All he can do now is continue to show he can handle the workload.

“I think the main thing is he’s on track to continue to move on to the next phase,” manager David Ross said. “[Thursday] was a heavy run day. We’ll see how he presents [Friday]. With a leg injury, it’s always the next day with a lot of these guys, but everybody’s moving along really nicely.”

Steele to start Iowa stint

Rookie left-hander Justin Steele threw a bullpen session in Los Angeles on Monday and is headed to Triple-A Iowa to begin a rehab assignment. Steele was one of the Cubs’ most reliable relievers earlier in the season before landing on the IL in May. He’s 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 11 games this year.

He said it

Cubs outfielder Joc Pederson on receiving his World Series ring from last year with the Dodgers: “It’s pretty special. We had a group of guys that worked extremely hard and accomplished something special. It’s something that is in the history books, and we’ll remember forever. Just gonna try my best to enjoy it and take in the moment. Obviously didn’t get to have a celebration with all the fans for the World Series, which is unfortunate. So [I’ll] just embrace all the memories that we had.”