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Cubs ace Justin Steele in line to return Monday from hamstring injury

 The Associated Press  |    May 3rd, 2024 2:11pm EDT

CHICAGO (AP) — Cubs ace Justin Steele is just about ready to return to Chicago’s rotation after being sidelined since the season opener because of a strained left hamstring.

Steele is on track to start Monday against San Diego, assuming he gets through one more bullpen session with no issues, manager Craig Counsell said Friday. The left-hander was hurt trying to field a bunt at Texas in the first opening day start of his career.

“We’ve missed him for a month and it’ll be good to get him going,” Counsell said.

Steele threw 63 pitches Wednesday for Triple-A Iowa. He allowed three runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.

“I feel I’m ready to go,” he said.

The Cubs are counting on more big things from Steele coming off his first All-Star season. The left-hander was 16-5 with a 3.06 ERA in 30 starts and finished fifth in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

Steele was off to a good start against the defending World Series champion Rangers. He had six strikeouts before he lunged and fell awkwardly trying to field Leody Taveras’ sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning.

“I was super anxious about opening day, just everything around it, first game of the year, first opening day for me and then obviously got hurt,” Steele said. “It was nice to get that one under my belt. Now, it’s like I’ve got to do it again. I’m excited about it. I’m more excited just being back up with the guys.”

Kyle Hendricks (lower back strain) will start Tuesday for Triple-A Iowa, Counsell said. The veteran right-hander threw five solid innings for Double-A Tennessee on Thursday.

The Cubs were second in the NL Central at 19-13 heading into their weekend series against the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB