Cubs’ Wade Miley hoping to return this season, prove he isn’t broken

Miley threw a 28-pitch bullpen session Saturday, but his timetable is still up in the air.

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Cubs lefty Wade Miley has been on the 15-day IL with a left shoulder strain since mid-June. File photo.

Cubs lefty Wade Miley has been on the 15-day IL with a left shoulder strain since mid-June. File photo.

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MILWAUKEE — Left-hander Wade Miley threw a 28-pitch bullpen session Saturday, taking a step forward after a slow recovery from his last rehab start. 

“Hopefully smooth sailing from here on out,” he said. 

Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, too, was pleased with Miley’s bullpen.

“Executed pitches great, and stuff looked great,” Hottovy said. “The question we keep asking is, how’s the recovery going to be?”

Miley said he hasn’t been dealing with soreness but rather a catch in his shoulder on his follow-through. But his MRI exams look “pretty good” for a 35-year-old who has thrown as much as he has. 

After Miley left his June 10 start in New York with shoulder pain, imaging showed a subscapularis tear. But the pain was at the back of his shoulder. 

“Then after the subscap completely healed, I still had the same pain,” he said. “So that’s where things get confusing.”

Over four rehab outings, Miley had built up to 75 pitches in his last start with Triple-A Iowa. But recovery has been an issue after his last two rehab starts.

Miley said he didn’t flag the issue two weeks ago because he hoped it would go away. When it cropped up again, it was clear he’d need more time to bounce back.  

“We don’t feel like we pushed it too much,” Hottovy said. “It was a normal progression, and it probably just that day wasn’t as free and loose as he’s felt.”

The Cubs will have to gauge Miley’s recovery in the coming days before determining his next steps. But Miley guessed that if all goes smoothly, he’ll probably throw another couple of bullpen sessions before heading back out on a rehab assignment. 

“I want to start tomorrow, but I don’t think they’re going to let me,” he quipped.

Miley has only started four games this season after the Cubs claimed him off waivers from the Reds and picked up his contract option for 2022. Injuries have plagued him for much of the year, including spring training.

“It feels like I’ve been playing catch-up since spring training,” Miley said. “I never had a spring training. And I think next year I’ll be fine. Next year will be a normal spring training, normal offseason. I think everything will be fine.”

Miley was frank about what’s on the line for him with less than six weeks left in the season.

“I ain’t got no choice; I can’t shut it down,” he said. “If I want to keep playing baseball beyond this year, I have to prove to people that I’m not broke. And I don’t feel like I’m broke by any means.”

Wisdom to IL

The Cubs put corner infielder Patrick Wisdom on the 10-day injured list with a sprained left ring finger, backdating the move to Friday. In a corresponding move, they recalled infielder Alfonso Rivas from Iowa.

Wisdom hurt the finger sliding into home plate a week ago. He took a couple of days off but returned to the lineup for the last three games of the five-game series against the Cardinals. 

“It’s coming back slowly,” manager David Ross said. “It just makes a lot of sense with where he’s at just to IL him, give him a little breather and expect him back on the back end of his 10 days.”

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