After not hearing of Ben Zobrist for the better part of a month, we were finally treated with an update on his status this weekend: the vet utility man is expected to begin a rehab assignment sometime in the near future.
Of course, Zobrist has been on the restricted list since mid-May as he elected to spend time with his family in the wake of his wife, Julianna, filing for divorce.
The 38-year-old's leave of absence has lasted longer than expected but we now have a set timetable for his return. Per MLB insider Jon Heyman, the Chicago Cubs are anticipating a late-August comeback for their lauded lead-off hitter.
It's not the worst news in the world for Cubbies devotees. After all, initial reports suggested that Zobrist wasn't expected to return until sometime in September. After being out of the game for over two months, we'd expect his rehab assignment to last more than three weeks.
After missing out on Eric Sogard, Chicago will need to insert Zobrist back into the lineup ASAP. During his absence, the club has been hard-pressed to find consistent production at second base and in the leadoff spot.
Sure, Zobrist was struggling significantly prior to his sabbatical -- slashing just .241/.343/.253 across 99 at-bats -- but he provides an invaluable spark to the club when he's in the everyday card.
We presume he'll step back right into his normal role as soon as he's back to full speed.