Ben Zobrist has been on a personal leave of absence and on the Cubs’ restricted list since May 8, to deal with issues including a divorce.
Recently, Theo Epstein hinted that Zobrist was ready to begin his comeback to playing for the Cubs and now we have some more definitive information:
Sources tell me that Ben Zobrist is expected to arrive in Chicago tomorrow and will be heading to South Bend to train with the Cubs Class A team for at least a few days. His plan for getting in baseball shape remains fluid for the next three weeks.— David Kaplan (@thekapman) August 2, 2019
Now, keep in mind what that tweet says and what it doesn’t. It doesn’t say he’ll be playing in games for the South Bend Cubs, not yet, anyway. The SB Cubs are home through Tuesday, August 6, so you’d have to figure he’d be there at least that long, then probably evaluate things. The SB Cubs have a top-notch workout facility, so Zobrist will be able to use everything they have there to try to get back in baseball shape.
The best-case scenario has him playing in minor-league games by perhaps the middle of the month, be added back to the 40-man roster August 31, and placed on the active roster September 1. This is the last year teams can have up to 40 players active in September; in 2020 that will be reduced to just 28.
As David Kaplan tweeted, the situation is “fluid.” Zobrist has been away from competitive baseball for almost three months, and he is 38 years old. He might not be able to get back into the shape required for a big-league pennant race.
But it appears he’s going to make the attempt. Here’s hoping for the best for him.