The Rundown: Russell Exits with Shoulder Pain, Candelario Recalled, Hendricks Pain-Free

“I’m feeling some discomfort,” Addison Russell said from the visitors’ locker room at Marlins Park Sunday afternoon. “There’s a difference between whenever you’re trying to work through something or you’re working against something. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with my shoulder, but definitely want to make sure.”

So, yeah, that’s…reassuring?

After looking out of sorts both at the plate and with his throws to first base for a good portion of the season, Russell had been coming around and finally resembled the “future MVP” status that had been bestowed upon him by more than just Len Kasper. But exiting Sunday’s game with “sharp, pinching pain” casts doubt on his ability to perform for at least the next few days.

“As of right now, it’s nothing debilitating,” Joe Maddon explained. “It’s just nagging.”

We’ve known about the shoulder issue for a while now, but it wasn’t a DL-worthy issue when it first popped up in May. Nor was it cited as a reason for Russell’s subsequent struggles, though it was easy enough to connect the dots and assume that pain and/or weakness in the joint and surrounding musculature was causing some problems. It’s pretty clear now that there have been lingering effects that the shortstop will have to continue to deal with.

“I know that I can get through the full season,” Russell said. “This year, it’s brought on new things that you have to get over, new things you have to learn, and injuries are definitely one of those things where I feel like I can help prevent, as far as treatment.”

Russell went on to say that the shoulder felt better after treatment, but that he was just going to take it on a day-by-day basis as far as his lineup readiness. From the sounds of it all the way around, this is going to be one of those chronic things that only an offseason of rest — and perhaps something more, though that’s pure speculation — will solve.

We saw Bryce Harper’s production suffer as the result of a similarly nagging injury last season and Jason Heyward’s swing was demonstrably hampered by a wrist injury that wouldn’t go away. This could well be a situation in which even a trip to the DL won’t appreciably improve the health of Russell’s shoulder, so it’s just a matter of monitoring it to keep from redlining it while still making sure he’s productive.

Then again, that’s what the Cubs tried to do with Ben Zobrist, and we’ve seen how that’s worked out. First it was that Zo was going to continue to play, even batting right-handed, in spite of a tender left wrist. Next was a precautionary trip to the DL. Now we’re hearing that he’s likely out for the Nationals series and that there’s no timeline set for his rehab. It’s possible that he’ll be fine by the time the Cubs return home to face the Rays, but I’m not optimistic.

I know I’m beating a dead horse with this whole injury thing, it’s just that I’m baffled by how some of these situations have been handled. Between Zobrist, Russell, Heyward, and Hendricks, you’ve got several players who’ve continued to play through obvious and/or publicly shared injuries. And in Zobrist’s case, it was a matter of the team letting the player determine his path. Like, I get that he’s a vet and knows his body, but c’mon.

This isn’t the 1950’s when we don’t have advanced tech and it’s not an age in which Andre Dawson is out there performing his own tape jobs prior to every game just so his legs can stay together. Sorry, I’m just frustrated by what appears to be a lack of judgment when it comes to injury prevention from a team that has been lauded for its foresight.

Candelario is back

With various injuries depleting the Cubs’ ballyhooed depth, they’re calling Jeimer Candelario back up to join them for at least the next few days.

A corresponding move had not been announced as of post time, but the Cubs have been carrying nine relievers of late and it’s a pretty sure bet that either Dylan Floro or Felix Pena will be heading back down (ed. note: It was Floro). It’s probably not a long stay for Candy, either, as Jason Heyward’s likely activation later in the week will necessitate a roster spot. Then again, the most probable “victim” there is Mark Zagunis.

I’d love to see Candelario really show out this time around and prove that he’s more than just a AAAA player. For those who’re thinking that’s a typo or who’re unfamiliar with the concept of a quad-A player, it’s a guy who tears up the highest level of the minors but then can’t seem to get it done in the bigs. To this point in his career, that’s what Candelario has been.

His slash line over nearly 500 plate appearances with AAA Iowa is .306/.394/.532 (.926 OPS) and he’s struck out at a 20 percent clip. As a Chicago Cub, however, Candelario is hitting .125/.222/.156 with a strikeout rate of over 30 percent. That’s only across 36 plate appearances, though, so we’re not exactly talking about a definitive sample. Maybe that all changes this time.

A strong performance would not only be great for Candelario, who’s an outstanding young man and excellent ballplayer, but it could give the Cubs a little more leverage when it comes to making moves. I know scouting these days is such that everyone knows who all the top players are and they don’t need a showcase to allow them to actually see a player. Exorcising the AAAA specter would be a nice turn, though.

Being traded would probably be in Candelario’s best interest at this point as well, given his positions and the makeup of the Cubs’ roster. Either way, I want to see him do well.

Hendricks should return soon

Theo Epstein said last Thursday on Spiegel and Parkins that Kyle Hendricks would not begin throwing until he was pain-free and tests revealed no inflammation. Well, the righty threw a side session Saturday and reported no after-effects Sunday.

“Of course, it’s probably aggressive right now to think prior to the All-Star break,” Maddon said. “But you never know. I don’t want to rule anything out. Just let him go throw.”

It helps that the rest of the rotation has been nails lately, thus giving the Cubs a little more leeway when it comes to bringing Hendricks back for active duty.

More news and notes

  • Kyle Schwarber will make his I-Cubs debut tonight against the New Orleans Baby Cakes
  • Freddie Freeman will indeed attempt to play third base when he returns from a broken wrist
  • Julio Urias is expected to miss up to 14 months following anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder
  • Brett Anderson threw 4 innings of one-run ball for the Tennessee Smokies Sunday
    • Anderson got his first six outs — and seven of 12 total — on the ground
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