MESA, Ariz. -- Bad news just keeps getting worse.
Cubs right-hander Adbert Alzolay, who was expected to play a big role for the Cubs' rotation this year, could miss half the season or more because of a lat strain he suffered throwing on his own program in late February.
"The goal was to throw a lot more innings this year, and now we've just got to wait for it," said Alzolay, who added that he expects to try to keep the time missed to two months -- an optimistic prognosis at best.
"I feel it's just more about the work that you can put into the rehab process," he said. "If you work really hard about it, you can get [through it] really quick."
But Alzolay missed almost four months with a similar injury in the minors in 2018, and Cubs officials, including team president Jed Hoyer and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, have already preached patience with their pitching staff, not only with injuries but ramp-up work.
"Anytime you lose someone it's terrible, but a guy like Adbert, it's big, for sure," Hendricks said. "He's a big part of what we do."
Without Alzolay in the mix, last year's rookie pitchers Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson taken on bigger profiles in the early rotation picture behind a top three of Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley.
And Hoyer said Monday that pitching remains a focus as he attempts to "add a lot of players" to the roster this spring.
For now, Alzolay is focusing on healing and trying to contribute over the final months.
"Whenever I'm ready, I feel I can help the team, either coming out of the bullpen multiple innings or being a starter," he said.