Cubs put reliever Brandon Hughes on IL for recurring inflammation in left knee

Hughes’ IL move opened a spot on the active roster for right-hander Caleb Kilian.

SHARE Cubs put reliever Brandon Hughes on IL for recurring inflammation in left knee
Cubs lefty Brandon Hughes’ injury again leaves the Cubs without a left-hander in the bullpen.

Cubs lefty Brandon Hughes’ injury again leaves the Cubs without a left-hander in the bullpen. File photo.

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Cubs reliever Brandon Hughes landed on the 15-day injured list with inflammation in his left knee for the second time this season. His move to the IL made room for right-hander Caleb Kilian, who made a spot start Saturday, on the roster.

Hughes’ injury, which flared up this spring, stems from a 2015 surgery to repair the meniscus in the knee. The fact the inflammation is recurring, when he successfully has managed the issue up to this point, is a cause for some concern.

‘‘I think the main concern is just finding a great routine and maintenance plan that can help him perform at a high level and have that thing not flare up on him,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘Because when you get off that backside, the mechanics suffer, and then the pitch efficiency suffers, the effectiveness. It’s just a snowball effect.

‘‘I’m sure he does — and we do — feel like it’s a cycle that we want to break a little bit.’’

The Cubs are shutting down Hughes for now to address the swelling. He is switching back to a more substantial brace. Ross didn’t want to go into the details of Hughes’ treatment plan, but he said the team will ‘‘throw everything at it that we possibly can and see what helps.’’

‘‘The good thing is, we’ve been through this process once out of spring training and found a couple of things that helped out, and we’ll try to build upon that moving forward,’’ Ross said.

The Cubs shut down Hughes after four Cactus League outings this spring, and he was throwing off a mound again about a week later. He went on a rehab assignment to continue building up and improving the consistency of his mechanics.

After returning from the IL on April 15, he posted a 3.18 ERA in five appearances.

Hughes’ injury again leaves the Cubs without a left-hander in the bullpen. They do have a couple of lefty options in Triple-A — including Ryan Borucki, who was considered for the Opening Day roster — and a 40-man roster spot open. Borucki started the Triple-A season strong but has struggled in his last two outings, allowing nine runs in a combined 2⅔ innings.

The Cubs also spent the first two weeks of the season without a lefty in the bullpen. Ross often turned to right-hander Mark Leiter Jr., whose splits are good against left-handed hitters, in lefty-heavy pockets of opposing lineups. Rookie Jeremiah Estrada also is expected to get more opportunities.

‘‘We’re not always going to get the perfect matchup that we want,’’ Ross said, ‘‘but I don’t know if anybody does.’’

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