Seeing Nick Madrigal play one of Cubs’ top priorities for rest of season

Madrigal was slotted into the leadoff spot for the Cubs’ game Sunday against the Marlins.

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Nick Madrigal turns a double play against the Cardinals earlier this month in St. Louis.

AP Photos

As the season winds down, monitoring second baseman Nick Madrigal’s progress is one of the Cubs’ pressing tasks.

‘‘One of the top priorities is [getting] to see him as much as possible and also keeping him healthy,’’ manager David Ross said.

Acquired from the White Sox with reliever Codi Heuer for closer Craig Kimbrel last season, Madrigal was expected to provide a contact-first approach at the plate and form a double-play combination with shortstop Nico Hoerner. But Sunday was only Madrigal’s 35th game of 2022, a season that has seen him spend almost two months on the injured list with a strained left groin.

That absence, combined with the time he lost in 2021 after tearing his right hamstring with the Sox, has cost Madrigal valuable experience and development.

Ross, however, said he thought Madrigal could take something from his time being injured.

‘‘The adversity you go through when you get hurt also can be a learning experience and help you in the longevity of your career,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Ideally, you’re out there playing every single day and getting better. That wasn’t his path. Sometimes in that environment of rehabbing, you get stronger, you get more mobile, more flexible. Whatever the detail is you want to attack in that process can be beneficial.’’

Madrigal played second in place of Christopher Morel, who is day-to-day after suffering tightness in his right hamstring Saturday. He had one of the Cubs’ two hits while batting leadoff.

‘‘I feel like I’m seeing the pitches a lot better than I did early in the year,’’ Madrigal said. ‘‘Even my routines daily, I feel like I’ve gotten back to what I’ve done my whole life instead of trying to change things. I definitely think I’m on track.’’

Who’s the closer?

With David Robertson gone, the Cubs have a vacancy at closer. Ross said he would mix and match in the ninth inning, but he singled out the pitchers with the most trust as Rowan Wick, Brandon Hughes and Steven Brault.

‘‘I don’t think it’s out of character to say [Wick] will be in the back end of things,’’ Ross said.

Wick’s season has been inconsistent. He had a 0.77 ERA in his first 11 outings, then a 7.91 ERA in his next 20. In his last 12 appearances, Wick has a 1.98 ERA.

After that tough stretch, Ross said Wick ‘‘simplified some things.’’

‘‘He’s done a nice job of getting back to what he does well,’’ Ross said. ‘‘Sometimes I think we all can stray a little bit, whether it’s hitting or pitching or just staying true to ourselves. He’s done a nice job of getting back on track there and holding down some really strong innings for us.’’

This and that

Double-A Tennessee outfielder Alexander Canario was named the Cubs’ minor-league player of the month for July. Single-A Myrtle Beach’s Luke Little was the minor-league pitcher of the month.

• Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who was designated for assignment Saturday, was granted his unconditional release.

Jon Scheyer, the Northbrook native who replaced Mike Krzyzewski as the men’s basketball coach at Duke, threw out a ceremonial first pitch and sang the seventh-inning stretch. Duke graduate Marcus Stroman caught the pitch.

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