Chicago Cubs

Craig Counsell gives injury updates on Julian Merryweather, Ben Brown

Merryweather has missed most of the season, while Brown has been out since early June

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The Chicago Cubs could soon get an influx of pitching talent back into their roster in coming weeks, with manager Craig Counsell providing updates on Julian Merryweather and Ben Brown.

Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Counsell confirmed that Merryweather threw live batting practice at Wrigley Field, part of a slow ramp-up ahead of a potential return.

Merryweather, who has missed nearly the entire season with a rib injury, is expected to throw one more live batting practice session on Saturday, and if all goes well, Counsell says he will go out on a rehab assignment while the Cubs are in Baltimore and St. Louis to wrap up the first half of their season.

If that assignment goes according to plan, the team could add him back to the bullpen in late July.

Another key pitcher that could return is Brown, who has been out with neck issues since early June. Brown threw a bullpen for the Cubs on Saturday, and will likely require another bullpen session before facing live pitching, the team said.

Jordan Wicks is also working his way back from an oblique strain he suffered in mid-June and could also rejoin the team by the end of the month, Counsell said.

“We have a fairly sizable group trending toward post-All Star break. I don’t think we have return dates for any of them, but the second half of July is Wicks, Brown, Merryweather, and we’re in a good spot with all those guys,” he said.

Counsell said that the continued progress by the pitchers could provide a key shot in the arm for a team that has struggled to hold leads for much of the season.

“That’s a good group of pitchers. That’s very important to this team,” he said.

The Cubs entered Tuesday’s game against the Phillies with a 39-46 record, good for last place in the National League Central. They are 11 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in that race, and are five games out in the National League wild card chase with 77 games to go in the regular season.

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