Ben Zobrist
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Ben Zobrist to begin rehab assignment

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Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist is on the cusp of a rehab assignment, club president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters Friday. He expects to begin a Minor League assignment next weekend and may be eligible for the postseason if the Cubs reinstate him on or before August 31.

Zobrist, 38, cited a ‘personal matter’ when he took an unexpected leave of absence from the team back in May, after which he was placed on the restricted list. It was later revealed that he had filed for legal separation from his wife, Julianna Zobrist, though his status with the team was left somewhat murky with no scheduled return date.

Prior to his temporary departure from Major League Baseball, Zobrist appeared in 26 games for the Cubs during the 2019 season, batting .241/.343/.253 with one double, 10 RBI, and a .596 OPS across 99 plate appearances. He’s not too far removed from one of his best career performances, however, as he posted a .305 average and 3.6 fWAR with the team during his campaign in 2018. While his impact on the Cubs will be understandably dimmed given his long road back to the majors and the limited playing time he’ll receive in September, it’s a promising start.

Astros’ Verlander to have elbow surgery, miss rest of season

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Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season.

The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner announced the news Saturday on his Instagram account in a 1½-minute video.

“In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said.

He threw to hitters on Wednesday for the first time since he was injured in the team’s opener on July 24. He threw 50 pitches in the bullpen before throwing about 25 pitches to hitters in two simulated innings.

“I tried as hard as I could to come back and play this season,” Verlander said. “Unfortunately, my body just didn’t cooperate.”

Verlander has been on the injured list with a right forearm strain. He went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA in 2019.

“Obviously, this is not good news,” Verlander said. “However, I’m going to handle this the only way I know how. I’m optimistic. I’m going to put my head down, work hard, attack this rehab and hopefully, come out the other side better for it.

“I truly believe everything that everything happens for a reason, and although 2020 has sucked, hopefully, when this rehab process is all said and done, this will allow me to charge through the end of my career and be healthy as long as I want and pitch as long as I want and accomplish some of the goals that I want in my career.”


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