MILWAUKEE — Infielder Nico Hoerner was expected to be a big part of the Cubs’ plans this season, but he hasn’t been able to make the impact the team had expected because of injuries.
Hoerner has had three lengthy stints on the injured list this season, suffering a strained left forearm in a collision, a strained left hamstring while running the bases and a strained right oblique while swinging the bat. In total, he has missed 90 games this season to injury.
Hoerner started for the first time since July 29 in the Cubs’ 6-4 victory Sunday against the Brewers after being activated from the IL. He went 0-for-4 in his return.
‘‘Definitely been a lot to take on this year,’’ Hoerner said Saturday. ‘‘I think every year comes with challenges like that. I think we talked about just playing these last two weeks and that being my focus right now, obviously. But definitely when this year is done, there will be a lot to reflect on.’’
After his latest rehab assignment slowed when he felt discomfort in his oblique, it’s natural to wonder whether the Cubs just should have shut him down.
But after missing so much time, Hoerner looks at the final two weeks as an opportunity to finish the season healthy and take something positive into the offseason.
‘‘It’s 10 or 15 games in the major leagues,’’ Hoerner said. ‘‘That’s a pretty awesome chance to play some good baseball and finish the year on the field. Play some shortstop. Like, there’s a lot of positives and things to learn in a situation like that.
‘‘Every year has its challenges. Obviously, it’s been more on the physical side for me this year. And I’ve learned a lot in that process and put it to use these last two weeks.’’
Hoerner has yet to get a full big-league season under his belt, so it’s understandable why the Cubs would want him to continue to develop and play in games.
‘‘If you’re a real competitor and you like your job, you want to play,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘I mean, at the end of the day, he’s a baseball player who wants to play baseball. . . .
‘‘It helps us see and evaluate him and lets him be in an environment that is fun and continue to see good pitching. And then, like, [with the] short season last year and not a ton of games this year, injured a lot in the minor leagues, every game matters, you know? The at-bats and all that stuff is healthy.’’
Hoerner is a big part of the Cubs’ future and will be one of the players expected to make a big contribution next season. His versatility is going to be an important part of the puzzle. While he has moved around the diamond a lot in his first couple of seasons, he’s excited to get a chance to play shortstop every day for the time being.
‘‘To play short again is really exciting,’’ Hoerner said. ‘‘Being down [at Triple-A Iowa] and playing the last four games at shortstop was a lot of fun. It’s something I’ve done my whole life and I love doing, so I’m definitely excited to do that at this level a little more.’’