The Cubs have been without right fielder Seiya Suzuki since the start of the Cactus League and Kyle Hendricks hasn’t pitched since last July, but both are taking strides toward returning to the club at some point. Lefty reliever Brandon Hughes, who would have been the only southpaw in the bullpen, is also on the IL due to a knee issue and is starting to ramp back up.
Suzuki has shown positive progress since well before the team broke camp and he’s almost at the stage of taking live at-bats back in Mesa. That should happen this coming week, after which he could be ready for a minor league rehab assignment. Having the affiliates playing on nearly the same schedule is helpful in that regard.
Hendricks isn’t nearly that far along and still hasn’t progressed from bullpens to facing live batters, but he could take that step soon. While it’s good that he’s been able to continue his throwing program more or less according to plan, it’s been roughly nine months since he pitched in a competitive setting and his performance over the last two years isn’t enough to merit a spot in the rotation.
As I’ve repeated several times by now, I’ll remain very pessimistic about The Professor’s return until he’s back on the mound at Wrigley throwing disappearing changeups.
Hughes is scheduled to throw a live BP session on Sunday and could be activated about a week later if all goes well. The bullpen appears to be very stout even without him, but having all righties isn’t ideal.