The Rundown: Zobrist Not Expected Back for Nats, More Rehab Notes, Rizzo Still Leadoff

After saying that he could have been ready to go by this past Friday, it sounds as though Ben Zobrist will be out until next Friday at the earliest. Joe Maddon and the Cubs are letting Zobrist determine his readiness and he has been doing some running and other work on the field lately, but no date has been set for a rehab assignment.

Maddon admitted they haven’t even formally discussed a timeline for Zobrist yet, though we’re probably only looking at a single game. My guess is that the veteran will need just a game, two at the most, and that he’ll get it at South Bend due to its proximity to Chicago. You may recall Jason Heyward doing that after coming back from a finger injury earlier this season.

The South Bend Cubs are back home on Friday, so Zobrist could head there and rejoin the big league team for the weekend games in Cincy. All things considered, though, it probably makes more sense for him to continue sitting out through all of next week before making a rehab start in South Bend on Monday, July 3. That’s an off day for the Cubs, who will then open a series with Tampa in Chicago.

With Javy Baez and Ian Happ playing well, there’s no impetus to rush Zobrist back to active duty at this point. While he’s a steadying presence in the lineup, they’re not exactly missing his production, particularly if he’s got even the slightest lingering issues with that wrist.

Given their other needs, the Cubs are hurt more by the absences of Jason Heyward and Kyle Hendricks, both of whom could be ready to return in the near future. Heyward’s placement on the DL was about not wanting to play shorthanded — pun intended — while waiting for his lacerated palm to heal. He’s eligible to be activated Thursday and should be ready to go at that point.

Theo Epstein said the other day that they were going to hold Hendricks back from throwing until his finger tendinitis was 100 percent clear. With the announcement that he is expected to give it a go with a little throwing this weekend, one assumes the issue is a thing of the past. Hendricks had recently cast doubt on a first-half return, thought that is looking like it’s very much on the table.

No Wally Pipp

Asked about Jon Jay assuming the leadoff role in his stead, Anthony Rizzo responded that he hoped his teammate would go 5-for-5 and that he’d be Wally Pipp’ed out of the top spot in the order. Neither was the case.

Jay did actually open the game with a hit and went on to hit another single, but Rizzo is expected back at leadoff for the series finale in Miami. How long he remains there, however, is still in question.

“I play first base for the Cubs,” Rizzo told reporters Saturday. “I don’t make the lineup card.”

More news and notes

  • As expected, Kyle Schwarber will join the Iowa Cubs on Monday
  • Three Oakland A’s players — Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman, and Franklin Barreto — hit their first career MLB homers against the White Sox last night.
    • James Shields allowed all three, the first time one pitchers has allowed three career-first HRs in the same game
    • I guess the fans at Guaranteed Rate at least got to witness history
  • A hamstring strain may keep Corey Seager on the bench for a while
  • The Phillies are open for business when it comes to trades
  • According to Ken Rosenthal, Johnny Cueto’s trade value could be “lower than a rental’s”
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