Brandon Phillips could return to action over the weekend

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Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips was removed from Tuesday’s game against the Padres because of a left calf strain and later told reporters that he was going to be out of commission “a while.”

But there is suddenly reason for optimism.

According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday night that Phillips may be able to to return to the lineup at some point during this weekend’s three-game series against the second-place Pirates. He has already been ruled out for Thursday’s finale with the Padres.

Phillips, 31, is batting .296/.336/.457 with 13 home runs, 19 doubles, eight stolen bases and 62 RBI through 401 plate appearances this season for first-place Cincy. The Reds have won 11 of their last 12 games.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.