The Cubs offered a handful of injury updates Thursday evening, the most important of which may be that lefty Brailyn Marquez is in a throwing program in Arizona. Once the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect, Márquez did not pitch this season due to COVID and shoulder trouble that did not include structural damage. Conditioning issues held the fireballer back at the alternate site last year, but he worked his way up to the big league roster for the final game of the shortened season.
Márquez will turn 23 in January so he’s still young enough to make up for lost time, but he’s going to need to be healthy for a full season. Even without any further setbacks, you have to wonder whether the Cubs will consider moving him into a relief role. Because his impact would be much greater as a southpaw who can sling it in triple digits, any decision to move him from the rotation will not be made lightly.
Speaking of big lefties, Brad Wieck has been cleared for all activity following a second procedure in as many years to correct an irregular heartbeat. Wieck underwent a cardiac ablation prior to spring training last year and then again this past July, but he is currently working out in Arizona and is expected to be ready for camp.
Lefty Brendon Little has been diagnosed with a stress reaction in this throwing elbow, the same injury that dogged both Yu Darvish and Brandon Morrow in 2018. Those players eventually had to undergo cleanup procedures, but the Cubs are clearly hoping the same won’t be true for Little. He is being shut down for six weeks and will be re-evaluated after that.
Moving to position players, David Bote has an estimated six-month recovery period following shoulder surgery earlier this month. That would put him at an early May return to activity if things go well. Alfonso Rivas is rehabbing an injury to his right middle finger and should be good to go by earlier December. Jason Heyward missed the end of the season due to a concussion but is now symptom-free and is on a normal schedule.