Cubs’ Alec Mills nearing return; Drew Smyly estimates rehab timeline

The Cubs are looking for answers to their pitching shortage.

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Cubs right-hander Alec Mills has been on the IL since the beginning of the season.

Cubs right-hander Alec Mills has been on the IL since the beginning of the season.

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With the Cubs in search of answers to their pitching shortage, right-hander Alec Mills stopped by Wrigley Field on Thursday to check in and throw in front of pitching coach Tommy Hottovy between rehab starts. 

Mills (strained right quadriceps), who becomes eligible to return from the 60-day injured list Monday, is scheduled to make his next rehab start Tuesday with Triple-A Iowa. 

“After that, I don’t know,” Mills said. 

If all goes well in that outing, the Cubs could use him in the rotation. 

In the last week, the Cubs have lost veteran left-handers Wade Miley (strained left shoulder) and Drew Smyly (strained right oblique) to the 15-day IL.

Miley threw a bullpen session, but Smyly is facing a much longer recovery process. 

“The first three, four, five days, they told me to rest it and just do treatment on it,” Smyly said. “But then hopefully by this road trip, we can start kind of pushing it and just kind of testing it out to see how close we are.” 

He doesn’t have a set timeline to return, but his IL stint is expected to be longer than the minimum 15 days. Smyly said he had dealt with a similar injury in his rookie season 10 years ago. About four weeks after the injury, he started pitching in games again.  

“Hopefully it’s a very similar timeline, where within the next four weeks, I’m going to be close to building back up,” Smyly said.

He was also younger then. Much of Smyly’s rehab process will progress based on how he feels each day. Oblique injuries are infamously stubborn. 

“According to [team orthopedist Stephen Gryzlo], if you try to push it and come back too early, you’re just gonna reinjure it,” Smyly said. “It’s not really something you can push through. So he made it pretty clear that we have to just kind of put everything on hold for the time being.” 

Mills knows something about an unexpectedly long injury recovery. He originally started the season on the 10-day IL with a back injury. But after his first rehab start, he felt tightness in his quad.

“I was working out after a bullpen session, and it just kind of grabbed on me pretty good,” Mills said. “It was something that we thought maybe it wasn’t as bad as it was at first. And then I tried to throw three or four days later, and it definitely was worse than what we thought. . . . It’s been a long process.”

Mills restarted his rehab assignment a month later.

He has made three starts with Iowa, building up to 3⅔ innings in his last outing and almost 60 pitches. He hopes to throw about 75 pitches in his next start. 

Lou Gehrig Day

MLB celebrated its second annual Lou Gehrig Day, raising ALS awareness and funds for related charities. 

At Wrigley Field, I AM ALS cofounder Brian Wallach and Team Gleason cofounder Steve Gleason were joined by their families to throw out ceremonial first pitches. The 50/50 raffle, with a $20,000 guaranteed jackpot, pledged half of the jackpot to ALS charities. 

Cubs broadcaster Jon Sciambi is on the board of Project Main St., a charity created in honor of one of his close friends, Tim Sheehy, who lost his life to ALS. Project Main St. partnered with Obvious Shirts to create “END ALS 4 LOU” shirts in team colors for clubs across the league.

The shirts could be spotted on players and coaches during pregame warmups.

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