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It’s been a few days since the Cubs announced Marcus Stroman had suffered a right rib cartilage fracture while already on the 15-day injured list. But still, nobody knows if he’ll recover in time to impact the team’s playoff push.
“I feel like all the doctors know that I’m going to fully heal and be back,” said Stroman on Friday, speaking to the media about the injury for the first time while in the press-box cafeteria mid-way through the Cubs’ 4-3 loss to the Royals. “It’s just, they don’t know if it’s going to be three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks. No one knows the exact timeframe.”
Neither Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer nor manager David Ross were able to provide clarity earlier in the week on how the injury occurred. Stroman’s comments didn’t provide much of a revelation, either.
“I was throwing on Sunday in Toronto, and I felt just like a little crampy feeling, nothing crazy,” Stroman said. “Threw my bullpen, got done with all my work, and then, after I cooled down, it was kind of hard to breathe, kind of in like my diaphragm and rib area.”
Stroman initially wasn’t sure if he’d fly back to Chicago. He did, of course, and when he landed, he went straight to the emergency room, where they ruled out appendicitis or a gallbladder issue. An MRI he took Monday morning revealed the actual rib injury.
“It’s rare. It’s very rare. They don’t see it much in baseball,” Stroman said. “As far as what they recommend, it’s kind of a gray area I feel, but I trust a lot of doctors that have seen MRIs and everything. I’m just going to obviously put trust in them and go from there.”
Again, Stroman isn’t sure how the injury happened.
When asked, he said nothing was off while taking ground balls after throwing Sunday — “I’ve been taking ground balls my whole life, so it’s nothing new,” he said — and he didn’t point to any issues stemming from the weight room. While getting a clear idea of what the injury is, Stroman called it “pretty alarming, pretty scary” when he initially started feeling it in his rib area.
For now, resting and letting the injury heal is how he’s treating the injury. He said he “can’t be too active” and he “can’t go anywhere. I can barely turn right now. Breathing is tough at some points. To sit for long periods of time is pretty difficult.” Stroman has not been around as much lately, does not seem likely to go on the road with the team next week and is unsure whether he’ll stick around Chicago or go out to the complex in Arizona to rehab. He doesn’t want to “take away” from the team has going right now.
“There’s not much I could be doing right now to contribute,” Stroman said. “The team is in a great place. Everyone has got a great routine, everyone kind of knows there’s things. I’ve never been a big proponent of guys being there that aren’t going to contribute directly and can’t help the squad. I’m someone who does usually well with, I know my body pretty well, so I’m hoping it’s kind of fast tracked and I’m hoping I feel better sooner than later, and then I can kind of just get back on a routine.”
The Cubs have managed to keep themselves in the race while Stroman has been sidelined. He’s stated all year his belief that this team can compete with the best of them, and even after a 1-2 start to this 12-game stretch that in theory should be a softer part of their schedule, they’re still just three games back of the Brewers in the National League Central.
“I’m the biggest believer in this team,” Stroman said. “You guys have heard how I’ve talked about this team since spring training. Nothing has changed. I think we’re right in the thick of it. You see how we’re playing. I truly believe we can win the division, and I mean, once you’re in the playoffs, it’s anyone’s game. No one is a bigger believer in the Cubs than me.”
But again, the question remains whether Stroman will rejoin the team for that last push to the postseason.
“I’m taking it day by day, truly,” Stroman said. “Not even looking past tomorrow, man. I don’t have an answer for you.”
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