This is the reality for Miguel Montero if the Cubs catcher lets his sprained left thumb completely heal: “Obviously, if I wait to be 100 percent, it’s going to be season-ending, pretty much.”
So Montero is trying to force his way back into the lineup as soon as possible, getting at least one medical opinion that framed it as a matter of how much he can tolerate the pain, a chronic injury for someone who’s caught more than 7,500 innings in the big leagues.
“In my own mind, I think I can go right now,” Montero said inside the Wrigley Field clubhouse, standing at his locker after Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Montero said he’s already been hitting for a week and catching bullpen sessions at the team’s complex in Arizona. He returned to Chicago for another round of checkups, expecting to travel with the team on the road trip through Milwaukee and Pittsburgh that begins Thursday.
Montero jammed his thumb during the second-to-last game before the All-Star break, creating an opening for Kyle Schwarber, last year’s No. 4 overall pick.
Manager Joe Maddon hasn’t been comfortable with the idea of Schwarber catching Jon Lester or Jake Arrieta, moving the rookie to left field on Wednesday afternoon while the $155 million ace threw to David Ross.
The Cubs are looking for ways to keep Schwarber’s bat in the lineup. He’s hitting .357 with a 1.035 OPS through his first 19 games in The Show.
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“Wherever I can help the team,” Schwarber said.
It’s unclear if Schwarber will ultimately prove the doubters wrong and stay behind the plate, but this obviously creates big-picture questions about Montero, who has two years and $28 million left on his contract.
“I can’t control that,” Montero said. “I just do my job the best I can.”
Either way, the Cubs might be getting a two-time All-Star catcher back sooner rather than later, and maybe that functions as a trade-deadline addition for a lineup starving for offense.