“He’s played incredibly well and it’s a big loss. I think the way he plays resonates with the guys,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said.
PITTSBURGH – It’s been a tough month for the Cubs on the injury front and it just got tougher as they put second baseman Nico Hoerner on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain on Wednesday.
The Cubs’ second baseman injured the hamstring in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s 4-3 win while running to first base in an attempt to beat out a bunt.
“He’s played incredibly well and it’s a big loss,” Cubs president Jed Hoyer said. “I think the way he plays resonates with the guys.”
It’s the second time this month Hoerner has been on the IL after his collision with center fielder Ian Happ forced him to miss time with a left forearm strain.
The loss of Hoerner is significant as the 24-year-old infielder has been a spark plug for the Cubs’ offense. He’s slashing .338/.405/.432 with seven doubles, three stolen bases and a 137 wRC+ since being recalled from the team’s alternate site on April 22.
“He’s a baseball player, man,” manager David Ross said earlier this season about his second baseman. “He’s a really good baseball player. That’s what I love about him. He’s always studying and trying to be better. He’s got a plan and he’s willing to do anything we ask. It’s a really consistent at-bat. … He’s out to prove something which is really powerful thing.”
That energy has carried over to his defense where he’s played like one of the best glove men in baseball with a plus-four defensive runs saved and plus-five outs above average.
“He’s so valuable,” Hoyer said. “The quickness he has when he’s playing that rover spot in the shift, he’s is so good at it. I feel like we’ve seen a lot of runs that way.”
The Cubs will now have to try to optimize their lineup as best they can with Hoerner on the shelf. A hamstring strain is a tricky injury to navigate and with Hoerner dealing with a more moderate severity, it will likely be at least three-to-four weeks before he makes a return.
“Really tough to see,” starter Jake Arrieta said. “I mean he was very emotional and rightfully so. He works tremendously hard. He takes care of himself and prepares as well as anybody that I’ve ever seen.
“I feel bad for him and I feel bad for our team. But we’ve shown the ability to have other guys step up and fill a role it’s necessary until guys like that get healthy. So hopefully we’re still able to do that and move on and fill the gap until he’s healthy.”
One part of that equation will be outfielders Jake Marisnick and Jason Heyward coming off the IL. Both have progressed and are very close to making their return.
Marisnick and Heyward returning will mean a return to the infield for Kris Bryant. Bryant has played primarily in the outfield this season, but with Hoerner’s injury, the team’s needs have now changed. David Bote and Eric Sogard will split time at second base.
“He’s playing a good outfield and playing at an MVP level at the plate,” Ross said. “So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it in my mind. But yeah, that’s definitely an option.”