‘Q’ the mu­sic: Com­fort­ably thumb

Quin­tana mak­ing progress, but Cubs are be­ing care­ful

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - RUSSELL DORSEY rdorsey@sun­times.com | @Russ_Dorsey1

Things are start­ing to look up for Cubs left-han­der Jose Quin­tana, who has been pro­gress­ing in his re­hab from a thumb in­jury and is slowly work­ing his way back to base­ball ac­tiv­i­ties.

Quin­tana had surgery to re­pair a cut of the sen­sory nerve in his left thumb on July 2 and has been side­lined since the be­gin­ning of sum­mer camp.

“It’s quar­an­tine,’’ Quin­tana said, ‘‘so I’ve been help­ing at home. When that hap­pened, I was in shock. You know, it’s one day be­fore land­ing in Chicago for sum­mer camp, and it’s re­ally tough. I’m lucky be­cause the top of my thumb is the part where I feel it, but I don’t need that part.”

He said Tues­day that the stem of a wine glass broke in his hand when he was wash­ing dishes. While wait­ing two weeks to get the stitches re­moved, Quin­tana could do lower-body work and is a week into his throw­ing pro­gram.

“I threw yes­ter­day from 90 to 105 feet,’’ he said. ‘‘It was great be­cause I’ve been con­trolled. No pain around my thumb. The part where I feel the ball, I feel noth­ing around the area. The big­gest thing for me right now is to be in con­trol with the ball and hold the grip good and throw the ball.’’

Quin­tana, 31, has been a model of con­sis­tency the last five years. Since 2015, his 948⅓ in­nings are the sev­enth-most in the ma­jors — just ahead of Jon Lester, who ranks eighth.

Quin­tana has been work­ing on his fast­ball and changeup grips while throw­ing off flat ground as well as work­ing on his feel for the ball.

He went 13-9 with a 4.69 ERA in 32 starts for the Cubs in 2019.

The next step would be to be­gin throw­ing bullpen ses­sions. Pitch­ing coach Tommy Hot­tovy said Mon­day that those bullpen ses­sions could start in the next seven to 10 days should things con­tinue to trend in the right di­rec­tion and as Quin­tana builds his arm strength.

“I think any­time you’re deal­ing with some­thing in your hand,’’ Hot­tovy said, ‘‘it’s a lot about how it feels com­ing out of your hand and less about all the other things and just get­ting him to re­mem­ber all the me­chan­i­cal things and things we want him to work on and fo­cus on and less about how he feels. But he feels good.

‘‘I think he’s pro­gress­ing re­ally well. Still, it doesn’t look pretty. You know, I think it’s as ex­pected in terms of the hand it­self, but he’s pro­gress­ing and not hav­ing any is­sues.”

The Cubs had some depth con­cerns with their ro­ta­tion be­fore Quin­tana’s in­jury, and while hav­ing him ready in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture isn’t a guar­an­tee, the pos­si­bil­ity of hav­ing him re­turn at any point dur­ing the sea­son would be a bonus.

But as gen­eral man­ager Jed Hoyer dis­cussed on Friday, the Cubs will have to be cau­tious about push­ing their in­jured play­ers in such a short sea­son.

“I’m hop­ing for the best with him, and he’s such a com­peti­tor,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘He’s gonna do ev­ery­thing right to get back. But at some point, it’s gonna come down to how well he feels the ball. I think we’re prob­a­bly not go­ing to re­ally have a feel for that un­til he gets on a mound and throws all those pitches.

“You know the mar­gin for er­ror of pitch­ing in a ma­jor-league game is re­ally small. And so I think we won’t find out just how he feels, as far as that sen­sory part of his thumb, prob­a­bly un­til he gets much fur­ther along in his re­hab.”

JOHN ANTONOFF/SUN-TIMES

Af­ter hav­ing surgery July 2, Jose Quin­tana says he has no pain around his left thumb.

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