Cubs’ Drew Smyly ‘ahead of schedule,’ hopes to return before All-Star break

Cubs left-hander Drew Smyly is still hopeful that he could return from the injured list before the All-Star break.

“I think I’m ahead of schedule, honestly,” he told the Sun-Times on Tuesday. “But they’re trying to tame me. I’m like, ‘Let’s go, I’m ready.'”

That’s part of the job for any club’s medical team, to make sure enthusiastic players don’t rush back and re-injure themselves, especially for injuries like Smyly’s right oblique strain.He went on the IL two weeks ago.

Tuesday was Smyly’s fourth day of throwing, and he stretched out to 100 feet. He also started cardio work.

Next, Smyly’s throwing program will build out to 120-150 feet on flat ground, he said. He’ll go through tests in the weight room before eventually throwing off a mound.

“It feels really good,” he said. “All the activity we’re doing doesn’t really make it too sore. Everything’s been really positive.”

As much as the Cubs could use another starter, pushing Smyly’s recovery timeline isn’t worth the risk of a setback. Smyly, Marcus Stroman (right shoulder inflammation) and Wade Miley (left shoulder strain) are all on the 15-day IL, leaving the rotation shorthanded.

Stroman, who is eligible to come off the IL as soon as next week, seems to be the Cubs’ safest bet to return first. Miley was evaluated on Monday and prescribed rest and recovery for now.

Cubs manager David Ross declined before the game to reveal the team’s probable starter for Wednesday. But when asked specifically about the Cubs’ top pitching prospect Caleb Kilian this week, Ross didn’t rule out the possibility of him starting.

The Cubs optioned Kilian to Triple-A after his major-league debut a week and a half ago, and pitchers generally have to remain in the minor leagues for 15 days after being optioned. If the optioned player is replacing a player who is going on the IL, however, he can be recalled early.

“He’s not eligible to come back yet from a roster-move standpoint,” Ross said Monday, “but that also doesn’t mean that he won’t pitch.”

Sky honored

A group of Chicago Sky players carried the WNBA Championship trophy to the Wrigley Field mound before throwing out a pair of ceremonial first pitches Thursday. Sky coach James Wade and forward Azur? Stevens did the honors.

The Cubs recognized the Sky’s 2021 championship season with a video presentation before the game. Sky players including Stevens, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, Emma Meesseman, Li Yueru and Julie Allemand hung out on the field during batting practice.

The Sky’s championship run last season was the first in franchise history.

Bote back on assignment

Cubs infielder David Bote returned to Triple-A Iowa and could re-start his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend, the team announced.

The Cubs pulled Bote, who is on the 60-day IL after undergoing left shoulder surgery in the offseason, from his rehab assignment last week for what they called bouts of dizziness. Those have subsided.

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