Cubs shortstop Addison Russell aggravated his foot injury during his minor-league rehab assignment, a setback that could push his return from the disabled list back by two weeks or more.
Russell, who has been on the DL for the past month with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, was scratched from a scheduled start Wednesday night and was to return to to Chicago to be examined by team doctors.
“It’s not ideal,” said general manager Jed Hoyer, who wouldn’t speculate on how close to the end of the season the setback could push Russell’s return.
“I don’t think we know enough at this point,” Hoyer said. “He’s going to be evaluated.”
The news was a significant blow to a team that entered Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates with a three-game division lead over second-place Milwaukee and counted on the roster’s return to health and full strength for a successful playoff push.
Russell, a 2016 All-Star, had been expected to return from the DL within the next week. He went 1-for-3 with a double Monday in his first rehab game and looked good in his four innings in the field.
Javy Baez, who started all 17 postseason games at second base for the Cubs last fall, has played well at short for Russell the past four weeks.
Manager Joe Maddon has noted repeatedly in recent weeks how much stronger he expected his defensive alignment to look with Russell and Baez together again in the middle infield.
“So much of last season and even 2015 was fueled by great defense,” Hoyer said, “and that starts with Addison and Javy. A big part of our success has been those two guys playing defense.
“Guys have stepped up and played well, but it’s just so hard replacing them.”
Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub