CHICAGO (670 The Score) – Sidelined by a right forearm strain, Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay is aiming to return for the team’s final series of the regular season, he told 670 The Score on Thursday evening before Chicago hosted Pittsburgh at Wrigley Field.
Alzolay landed on the injured list on Sept. 11, and he’s in the initial stages of throwing again. He badly wants to help the Cubs in their playoff push. Entering play Thursday, the Cubs sat in the third and final National League wild-card slot but were just a half-game up on the Marlins and one game ahead of the Reds.
"The hardest part has been mentally for me,” Alzolay said. “The last 10 days, there have been a lot of opportunities where I could be pitching for the team. Those really get to my mind. It's kind of tough, and the guys have worked hard. But being on the shelf at this moment of the season is not ideal.”
Alzolay has a 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 22 saves in 57 appearances this season, and he was a central figure in solidifying the back end of the Cubs’ bullpen as they surged in the second half of the season.
After finishing their series against the Pirates on Thursday, the Cubs will host the Rockies for three games at Wrigley Field this weekend. Chicago then plays a three-game series at Atlanta and a three-game series at Milwaukee to conclude the regular season. It’s that final series against the Brewers that Alzolay is eyeing for a comeback – or perhaps a day sooner.
“I am hoping to be back by the last four games of the season,” Alzolay said. “I just want to help this team to be in a good position when we go to the playoffs.”
While Alzolay is keeping an optimistic outlook, he also knows he must balance what’s best for his health and what he can contribute to the team.
“There are two really hard decisions for me,” Alzolay said in reference to trying to return this season and also protecting himself from further injury. “The trainers did stop me from throwing because they wanted to protect my future. But at the same time, I am doing everything I can to stay on the field. It's really hard. Sometimes I feel I am letting the guys down, but I am really positive I will be back soon.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.