‘Q’ the music: Comfortably thumb
Quintana making progress, but Cubs are being careful
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.”
After having surgery July 2, Jose Quintana says he has no pain around his left thumb.