For the first time, Nico Hoerner will suit up for the Iowa Cubs.
Hoerner, who skipped Triple-A on his path to the big leagues, will begin a rehab assignment with Iowa on Sunday.
That's potentially big news for a Cubs lineup that has struggled recently without the productive contact bats of Hoerner and Matt Duffy, who's been sidelined since May 25 with a bulging disc in his back.
Duffy, whose rehab was slowed after pushing the intensity too hard at times in recent weeks, hopes to be back around the All-Star break, he said Saturday. That could mean the July 16-18 series in Arizona.
Hoerner, meanwhile, could be back at the end of the current road trip. He's been sidelined since late May with a left hamstring strain, sustained running to first base May 25 against the Pirates.
The 24-year-old has increased his baseball activities this week, including running the bases and taking groundballs in Los Angeles.
“It's moved along nicely the last couple of days,” said manager David Ross of Hoerner’s progression.
Hoerner and Duffy were big parts of the Cubs' offensive turnaround in May, with the latter earning regular playing time after starting the season on the bench.
The Cubs ended a six-game streak last Sunday where all their runs came via solo or two-run home runs.
Duffy said he’s feeling “a lot better now.” He threw on Friday and has been taking dry swings and will begin work in the field Sunday.
“We’re just taking it slow and bridging the gap to different things on the field a little bit better,” he said.
Along with Hoerner, pitchers Trevor Williams and Justin Steele will begin their own rehab assignments Sunday with Iowa, and Dillon Maples is scheduled to pitch Saturday. Ross said David Bote is not far behind.
"Guys are starting to kind of turn that corner right here before the All-Star break," Ross said.
"It’ll be nice to get these guys some games under their belt, get them healthy, get them back in the lineup and then still have some days off to recover, too, with the All-Star break coming up.
"It’s kind of good timing. Definitely missed a lot of those guys."