Cubs

Nady will wait to see what future holds

Nady will wait to see what future holds

Sunday, Sept. 12, 2010
3:31 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MILWAUKEE Xavier Nady rejoined the New York Yankees during last years postseason run, celebrated their 27th World Series title and rode up Broadway during the championship parade.

After rehabilitating his right elbow in California, Nady was at once a part of and separate from the team. And on some level its been like that with the Cubs, not fully integrated.

Thats not to say that Nady sulks or keeps to himself. He is a positive clubhouse presence, and well-liked by teammates. But since he signed a one-year deal in January, hes had to place percentages on how his arm feels, and measure the distance he can throw in long toss.

Until recently, its been a struggle to find to find regular at-bats. Hes averaged about 10 per week, and quoted that number off the top of his head.

I knew it was going to be a long year, Nady said. I just didnt know to what extent. You try to be optimistic and come back and be Superman after two Tommy John (surgeries). Its not ideal, not realistic. (You) just try to finish strong.

Gradually, Nady is restoring his value. August was his strongest month by far as a Cub he hit .320 with a .386 on-base percentage in 22 games and the deadline to be eligible for a postseason roster passed without him being dealt to his sixth team in the past six years.

And when Derrek Lee decided to approve a trade to the Atlanta Braves, it opened a spot for Nady at first base. Nows the chance to show hes still the middle-of-the-order hitter who generated 25 homers and 97 RBI in 2008.

You dont know how an arm injury effects a guy, manager Mike Quade. You can take a year off and come back and maybe make some pitches or maybe play defense. But swinging the bats a little different deal.

He looks way more comfortable and were all watching the same guy now that he was earlier. (Its) just getting back into what hes done for his career.

Quade described Nadys defensive play at first base as excellent, one reason why the manager still has no immediate plans to use Tyler Colvin there during a game. Its unclear what the organizations long-term answer will be at that position.

Nady, who will turn 32 in November, didnt worry about it when his name was mentioned in trade rumors throughout the summer. He certainly isnt anxious about free agency.

Nadys agent, Scott Boras, is one of the most powerful men in baseball. Coming off elbow-reconstruction surgery, Nady still got 3.3 million guaranteed, plus performance bonuses, after only seven games and 28 at-bats with the Yankees last season.

So Nady enjoys playing in Chicago and the Cubs might need a first baseman, but there are many moving parts to any deal.

Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Carlos Pena and Lee are among the first basemen approaching free agency. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez could all hit the market after the 2011 season. Teams will have options.

Nady also figures to market himself as an outfielder. He will have the entire winter to build up his arm strength. He thinks hell be physically able to play the outfield five or six times per week. By Opening Day 2011, he will be 21 months removed from his second Tommy John procedure.

But with three weeks left in the season, thats not where Nadys focus is at. He needs consistent playing time to get his timing down and be comfortable with his leg kick at the plate. A player who woke up Sunday morning batting .253 with six home runs and 30 RBI no longer feels like he has to make up for it all at once.

(Now) you dont put a ton of pressure on yourself to get that one start and try to get three or four hits to prove yourself again, Nady said. Ive always believed in myself. (I) still feel like once I get healthy, and start playing every day, that everything will work out.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs get more encouraging news on Jon Lester

Cubs get more encouraging news on Jon Lester

The news on Brandon Morrow might not be so positive, but the Cubs did receive very good reports on their injured ace this weekend.

Jon Lester threw a simulated game against a couple of his Cubs teammates Saturday morning at Wrigley Field, tossing 45 pitches in total. In between "innings" of the sim game, Lester was also working out on the side in an effort to ramp up the intensity and simulate more of a game feel to see how his injured left hamstring will respond.

Lester initially went on the injured list two weeks ago after he was removed in the third inning of the Cubs' home opener on April 8, when he hurt his hamstring running the bases.

"[The sim game went] really well," Joe Maddon said Saturday morning. "I thought he looked very good. Pretty amazing where he's at already. ... Did not hold back at all, so it's very encouraging."

Maddon also said he thought Lester's stuff looked good from where he was watching behind the catcher and pointed out that the Cubs ace was "hypercritical of himself," indicating that Lester's focus was on competing and making good pitches instead of worrying about his hamstring or any physical limitations.

The Cubs don't have a next step mapped out for Lester just yet, as they will see how the 35-year-old feels Sunday after the "rigorous" activity Saturday.

There is currently no timetable for his return, but Maddon didn't rule out the possibility that Lester would be able to pitch sometime in the coming week.

The Cubs rotation has looked very good since Lester went down — combining for a 0.96 ERA in the last 7 games before Yu Darvish struggled early in Saturday's tilt with the Diamondbacks.

Tyler Chatwood gets the ball for the Cubs Sunday to close out the series against Arizona and then the team has Jose Quintana and Cole Hamels lined up for the first two games of the series against the Dodgers when they come to town Tuesday night. 

The Cubs won't need a fifth starter in the rotation again until next Saturday, April 27, so that could be a date to circle for a possible Lester return if all continues to go well in the veteran's recovery.

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Cubs shut down Brandon Morrow after setback

Cubs shut down Brandon Morrow after setback

Brandon Morrow will not be ready to join the Cubs bullpen in the near future.

It was expected the closer would miss at least the first month of the season after recovering from November elbow surgery, but now the Cubs say Morrow has suffered a setback and they're shutting down the 34-year-old pitcher.

Morrow threw a bullpen at the Cubs' complex in Arizona earlier in the week and experienced some of the same issues in his arm after.

"The bounceback after the last time out wasn't as good, so we gotta back off him once again and just slow things down," Joe Maddon said Saturday morning. "It's just where he's at. It's not unlike what had been going on earlier.

"It was all trending very well and this last time, just not as good. So we have to pay attention to what he's saying."

Morrow will not pick up a baseball for a little while, though the Cubs didn't specify exactly how long that would be. This obviously pushes Morrow's timeline back significantly and raises serious questions about his status moving forward this season.

He has not appeared in a game since July 15 last year, hitting the shelf with what was classified as a biceps issue initially and then later revealed as a bone bruise. The surgery in November was a debridement procedure similar to what Yu Darvish underwent in September for his own bone bruise.

The Cubs have been very conservative with Morrow throughout his entire recovery, especially given his long injury history. 

Yet even with that conservative approach, nine months away from game action to let the injury recover and the procedure on his elbow to clean things up, Morrow is still experiencing similar issues to what he went through in the second half of last year. As he tried to come back and join the Cubs' pennant race last August and September, Morrow also struggled bouncing back after throwing sessions.

It will be a bit until the Cubs have any sort of definitive timeline on Morrow, but in the meantime, they'll continue piecing together a bullpen that has found its footing lately after a brutal stretch to begin the season. 

The Cubs also have some reinforcements on the way soon in the form of veterans Xavier Cedeno and Tony Barnette, who both signed free-agent deals with the team over the winter. Cedeno, a 32-year-old lefty, is throwing another rehab game in Double-A Tennessee Saturday while Barnette — a 35-year-old righty — is expected to make his first rehab appearance with Triple-A Iowa Sunday.

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