Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon takes important step in rehab, but rotation hole looms

Manager David Ross said he doesn’t know who will start Thursday against the Nationals.

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Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon may be able to avoid a rehab assignment.

Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon may be able to avoid a rehab assignment.

Matt Marton/AP

WASHINGTON — Cubs right-hander Jameson Taillon went through more than just a bullpen session Tuesday. He threw 45 pitches — some in the bullpen and some in simulated play on the field — along with fielding bunts and covering first base, according to pitching coach Tommy Hottovy.

It was a promising step for Taillon, who has been on the 15-day injured list with a strained groin for two weeks.

‘‘Thought it was a really good workload,’’ Hottovy said before the Cubs’ 4-1 loss to the Nationals. ‘‘We like where he is from a volume standpoint. . . .

‘‘This was more just to test it for the intensity of what it would be like [in a game]. Stuff looked great. It was about what we would have expected in a game situation, stuff-wise.’’

Manager David Ross said this week that Taillon wouldn’t be in the mix to start Thursday, no matter how well his session went Tuesday. But the Cubs are optimistic Taillon won’t need a rehab start before returning.

‘‘We have to obviously see how he recovers the next day or so,’’ Hottovy said. ‘‘Because he was able to throw the whole time and he’s thrown multiple bullpens now, we feel pretty confident with that.’’

The Cubs will gauge how Taillon feels Wednesday. They’ll go over the data from the bullpen session/sim game and look over the results of continued strength tests.

If all of that checks out, Hottovy said, ‘‘I don’t really feel like there’s much more we need to see from a non-game perspective.’’

Taillon nearing a return is good news for the Cubs, but they still have a hole to fill Thursday. They widened their options when they called up catcher Miguel Amaya and designated left-hander Ryan Borucki for assignment Tuesday, clearing a spot on the 40-man roster.

‘‘I have no idea who’s throwing for us Thursday,’’ Ross reiterated.

The Cubs knew going into the season that they would lean on their rotation, and that has played out so far in this series. Left-hander Drew Smyly’s one-run effort in seven innings Monday helped snap a three-game losing streak.

‘‘We had a tough series in Miami,’’ Smyly said after the Cubs’ 5-1 victory Monday. ‘‘We were in all three of those games and came up just short, one-run games. So I really wanted to set the tone and help us get back on track.’’

Right-hander Hayden Wesneski then held the Nationals to one run in six innings Tuesday. But the Cubs’ only offense was a solo home run by Patrick Wisdom, and reliever Keegan Thompson yielded three runs in the seventh.

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