Before the game Sunday against the Royals, manager David Ross was asked how long he expected infielder Nico Hoerner to be on his rehab assignment.
‘‘We’re going to wait and make sure he gets through today, then we’ll see if he can get through tomorrow, then we’ll see if he gets through the next day,’’ Ross said. ‘‘When he looks healthy, we’ll bring him back up.’’
Ross’ caution was prescient.
Hoerner (strained right oblique) began his rehab stint Sunday at High-A South Bend but left the game in the middle of his at-bat in the third inning after an awkward-looking swing. The Cubs said Hoerner felt increased tension along his right oblique and took himself out as a precaution. He will be re-evaluated Monday.
After a stay in South Bend, Hoerner was ticketed for Triple-A Iowa before coming back to the Cubs, where the plan was for him to play shortstop.
‘‘Look how fast he picked up second base and how special he was there,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I have no doubt in my mind that he can be a big-league shortstop on a regular basis. If he can stay healthy and on the field, he’s a really big piece to this team moving forward.’’
Third baseman Patrick Wisdom’s 20 home runs this season lead National League rookies and tie him with Orestes Destrade (1993 Marlins) for the NL record for homers by a rookie 29 or older.
Wisdom has gotten a chance and run with it, putting himself squarely in the picture for next season. Perhaps most important, he has been able to produce even as opposing pitchers have made adjustments.
‘‘It’s who he is,’’ Ross said. ‘‘He’s got real thunder in his hands. When he touches the baseball, it jumps. The more contact he makes, the more he gets familiar with the pitching staffs, the divisions and the league and how guys pitch him . . . I think that he’ll continue to even get better than he’s doing now.’’
What about Willson?
Ross said catcher Willson Contreras (sprained right knee) is doing well but not moving 100%. Contreras got some work in before the game, testing the knee by running the bases with a brace. As for what else he’s doing, Ross said Contreras is doing some catching but not blocking just yet.
When Contreras returns, it might be as a designated hitter first. The Cubs visit the White Sox this weekend before going to Minnesota to play the Twins, potentially giving Contreras a chance to DH.
Responding to Matheny
Royals manager Mike Matheny was upset about the 34-minute weather delay Saturday, one that didn’t feature a lot of rain but did mess with the flow of left-hander Kris Bubic, whose no-hit bid was broken up after play resumed.
Cubs spokesman Julian Green explained that if there’s lightning within five miles of the ballpark, the team will clear the seating bowl, which happened Saturday. If there’s lightning within three miles, the playing field will be cleared, which also occurred. Green said there was a lightning strike a mile from Wrigley.
‘‘The safety of the players on the field supersedes anything that is going on at the field at the time,’’ Green said.