Trading fan favorites and productive veterans have been a way of life for the Cubs over the last two seasons.
So have injuries and recurring ailments.
Second baseman Nick Madrigal returned to the 10-day injured list for the third time because of a mild right groin strain before Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Giants was the latest in a series of ailments that stunted the Cubs’ ability to at least hover near the .500 mark for an entire season and evaluate their young talent with no medical red flags during their current rebuild.
The Cubs currently have 12 players on the injured list. That’s not completely outrageous, considering the Reds have 16 players in the IL, including five with season-ending injuries. Five of the 10 players on the Rays’ IL are on the 60-day list.
But the recurring setbacks, such as reliever Rowan Wick’s left oblique strain in 2020-21 and shortstop Nico Hoerner’s four trips to the IL in 2021 (twice for right oblique ailments), harnessed their attempts to develop at the major league level.
Madrigal will be one of the first projects for Blaine Kinsley, who was recently hired as the Cubs’ new strength and conditioning coach, manager David Ross disclosed.
Kinsley spent the last five seasons with the University of Arkansas baseball program and has worked in professional baseball, including two seasons (2011-12) with the Cubs’ Class-A Peoria.
“We’ve had a high injury rate, and so that’s definitely part of his expertise,” Ross said. “And he’s been around a lot of winning. I think he’ll bring a lot to the table, not just in that area. I think having somebody overseeing the department is also helpful for making sure everyone is on the same page.”
Kinsley, who takes over a department once headed by Adam Beard, is expected to work this offseason with Madrigal in the Phoenix area, Ross said.
Madrigal was recovering from a right hamstring tear when he was traded in July of 2021 from the Sox, but he missed 20 games in May because of back soreness and nearly two months due to a left groin strain.
Prior to Madrigal’s latest setback, he was .283 with a .349 on-base percentage in 27 games. His development is an important part of the Cubs’ evaluation process, especially when deciding whether to pursue a prized free-agent shortstop which could result in Hoerner moving to second.
Ross thought it would behoove Madrigal to seek input from Hoerner, who has recovered successfully from injuries, as well as Kinsley.
“Getting back from a serious hamstring injury was one step,” Ross said. “Being able to take care of his body to stay healthy the entire season will be the next one.”
Infielder Patrick Wisdom was activated from the IL to replace Madrigal.