Cubs’ Willson Contreras, Nico Hoerner rejoin starting lineup in 20-5 loss to Reds

Cubs manager David Ross also provided more information on Caleb Kilian’s timeline for a big-league call-up.

SHARE Cubs’ Willson Contreras, Nico Hoerner rejoin starting lineup in 20-5 loss to Reds
The Cubs’ Nico Hoerner crosses home plate after hitting a solo home run during the second inning of Thursday’s 20-5 loss to the Reds.

The Cubs’ Nico Hoerner crosses home plate after hitting a solo home run during the second inning of Thursday’s 20-5 loss to the Reds.

Aaron Doster/AP

CINCINNATI — The Cubs’ lineup against the Reds on Thursday edged closer to full strength with catcher Willson Contreras and shortstop Nico Hoerner rejoining the starting cast. 

Both hit homers, but that didn’t mean much in a 20-5 loss.

It was the first time that the Cubs had allowed 20 or more runs in a game since 1999 in -Philadelphia. Coincidentally, the Reds hadn’t scored at least 20 runs since 1999, also in Philadelphia. 

Contreras missed three games with hamstring tightness, and Hoerner (sprained right ankle) was on the injured list for nearly two weeks.

Both had returned to action Wednesday, pinch-hitting in the ninth inning of the Cubs’ 4-3 loss. 

“I was able to swing pretty soon afterward; that wasn’t really a concern on the rehab side,” Hoerner said before the game Wednesday. “So should be good on that end.”

The Cubs have been navigating a spike in injuries, overlapping with several COVID-19-related IL moves, in recent weeks.

Several players, however, are approaching a return.

Second baseman Nick Madrigal (strained lower back) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Saturday. 

Right-hander Alec Mills (strained right quadriceps) and left-hander Sean Newcomb (sprained left ankle) are scheduled to make rehab appearances Friday.

It will be Newcomb’s second rehab outing with Iowa and Mills’ second since a setback interrupted his rehab assignment for a month. 

Suzuki exits with injury

Right fielder Seiya Suzuki left the game in the fourth inning with a sprained left ring finger he injured on a play at second base in the third inning.

Manager David Ross said Suzuki’s X-rays came back negative, and he’ll be re-evaluated Saturday after the day off.

“It flew away,” Suzuki joked after the game. “Might still be on top of the base.” 

After leading off the inning with a single, Suzuki stole second base and jammed his finger into the base as he slid over it and the throw pulled Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer the other way. When Suzuki reached back to touch the base, Farmer rolled over Suzuki, trying to put the tag down. 

Waiting for Kilian 

Right-hander Caleb Kilian, the Cubs’ top pitching prospect, is not in the conversation to start in either of the doubleheaders next week, Ross said.

“It just looks like real big-league stuff,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I know he’s having a great season, stuff’s trending up and the velocity is moving up. There’s just a lot of good things to like about him.

‘‘I’m sure we’ll see him sooner rather than later.”

Ross didn’t elaborate on why he didn’t expect “sooner” to be next week. 

The Cubs will need to add Kilian to the 40-man roster by the end of the year to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. 

The team is in the middle of a 40-man roster crunch, which is likely part of the equation. In addition to having every spot filled, to bring back outfielders Jason Heyward and Michael Hermosillo, who are on the IL without injury designation (usually COVID-19 related), the Cubs will have to clear room on the 40-man roster.

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