Cubs injury updates on pitchers Kyle Hendricks, Brandon Hughes, Codi Heuer are promising

Hendricks is “not far off” from a rehab assignment.

SHARE Cubs injury updates on pitchers Kyle Hendricks, Brandon Hughes, Codi Heuer are promising
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (strained right shoulder) is scheduled to throw two innings Wednesday at the team’s Arizona spring-training complex.

Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks (strained right shoulder) is scheduled to throw two innings Wednesday at the team’s Arizona spring-training complex.

Morry Gash/AP

A steady trickle of reinforcements is coming for the Cubs’ pitching staff over the next couple of months as three players on the injured list continue to progress.

Left-handed reliever Brandon Hughes, who was scheduled to appear Tuesday for Triple-A Iowa in the second game of a rehab stint for inflammation in his left knee, is the closest to returning. His time on the IL was more about correcting mechanical slippage after a flare-up during spring training.

Veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks (strained right shoulder) isn’t that far behind. He’s scheduled to throw two innings Wednesday at the Cubs’ Arizona spring-training complex.

“Then we’ll make a decision after that,” team president Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “But he’s doing great.”

Wednesday’s session will be Hendricks’ second time facing batters. The next step after live batting practice and simulated games will be a minor-league rehab assignment. Asked if Hendricks could begin that assignment in the next 10 days, Hoyer said, “We’ll reevaluate it, but he’s not far off.”

Reliever Codi Heuer, who underwent Tommy John surgery last March and was put on the 60-day IL this spring, also has begun the live-batting-practice portion of his rehab program. He originally had circled late June or early July to return from the IL.

“But he’s throwing really well,” Hoyer said. “We’re not really in a hurry with him because we will send him on a rehab [assignment], and our hope is, without a setback, he’s basically ready pretty close to when the 60-day’s up.”

Heuer is eligible to be activated May 29.

Even without Hughes, Hendricks and Heuer, the pitching staff had the third-best ERA in the National League (3.89) in the Cubs’ first nine games, behind only the Brewers and Braves.

When Hughes returns, he’ll provide the lefty arm the bullpen has been missing. Hendricks will be the last remaining 2016 World Series champion on the roster. Heuer, who had a decline in velocity over the course of 2021 before his surgery, can slide into a back-end bullpen role right away.

Tired husband Swanson exits early

Before the sixth inning of the Cubs’ comeback win over the Mariners on Tuesday night, Dansby Swanson strode from his spot at shortstop back to the dugout. Nick Madrigal jogged out to second base, stuffing a card into his back pocket. Second baseman Nico Hoerner moved to shortstop to replace Swanson.

The Cubs later announced Swanson had left with “lower left side tightness.”

Manager David Ross described Swanson’s issue as cramping. Swanson said he was exhausted. He’d been up since 4 a.m. and spent most of the day at the hospital with his wife, U.S. women’s national soccer team star Mallory Swanson, who underwent surgery on a torn patella tendon in her left knee.

“Been a long day,” Dansby Swanson said. “But glad that we can be here together. I couldn’t imagine being apart right now.”

Swanson, whom the Cubs signed to a seven-year, $177 million contract in the offseason, said he didn’t want to come out of the game but thought it was the smart move to avoid injury.

He remains one of the Cubs’ best hitters to start the season. He had four more hits Tuesday before his exit, bringing his slash line to .400/.467/.450.

He has only missed one game since the beginning of the 2020 season.

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