Jose Contreras rejoins Phillies eight months after surgery

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Jose Contreras is back in the Phillies’ bullpen eight months after undergoing elbow surgery that potentially could have ended the 40-year-old’s career last September.

It looked like Contreras’ return might be delayed when his first rehab appearance was an ugly one, but he quickly got on track in the minors and also proved that he was able to throw on back-to-back days.

Charlie Manuel told Paul Hagen of MLB.com that he plans to leave Chad Qualls in the primary right-handed setup man role for now and work Contreras back into the bullpen mix slowly, but as Contreras put it: “My health is good and my arm is good and I can help the team.”

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.