Cubs right-hander Ben Brown ready to overcome ‘roller coaster of emotion’ after injury

Cubs right-hander Ben Brown ready to overcome ‘roller coaster of emotion’ after injury

Meghan Montemurro, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Chicago Cubs rookie right-hander Ben Brown never wants to be kept off the mound.

So when Brown thought he had a troublesome neck problem last month, he thought he might get through it. But as the discomfort grew, Brown quickly realized it wasn’t just a stiff neck. After undergoing tests and getting clearance from doctors, Brown learned Monday that he has a “benign area of ​​concern” in his neck that is already dissipating.

“The last week has been a roller coaster of emotions just figuring out what’s going on, so I’m looking forward to progression and moving forward,” Brown told the Tribune on Friday. “My head is spinning from stress and I don’t know what’s going on.”

“It was hard. There were times last week where I went to bed thinking it was going to be a pretty tough shutdown for a while and even now I was just waiting for it to clear up and feel better.

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His final two starts on June 2 and 8, both against the Cincinnati Reds, proved physically difficult due to illness and ultimately prompted Brown to take the picture, although he had already felt it when he pitched seven hitless innings on May 28. Milwaukee.

“I want to achieve anything, I want to be out there,” Brown said. “It could have been X, Y and Z. And luckily, it’s none of those things.” It’s just something that’s there by chance. There was nothing I could have done about it. It wasn’t in my preparation, it’s not in my posture, it’s just there.

Brown played three times this week, working out to 90 feet, but manager Craig Counsell described his situation Friday as day-to-day. The Cubs will look to increase activity as long as Brown is symptom-free. Brown was told Monday, when he received his diagnosis, that it typically involved a two- to three-month period of burnout, with the presumption that he had already endured the first month, which tends to be the worst physically.

“I can’t feel the discomfort I had against Cincinnati, but I can feel the discomfort I had against Milwaukee,” Brown said. “It’s just a matter of what I can handle.”

Through almost the first three months of the season, the Cubs rotation has managed to overcome injuries to starters to be among the best staffs in the majors. They entered the team Friday with a 3.41 ERA, second-lowest in the National League and fifth-lowest in the majors. Cubs starters have allowed two runs or fewer in 47 of 75 games to lead the National League.

But on Friday, in a rare move, left-hander Shota Imanaga was hit hard against the New York Mets in his worst outing of the season. The Mets hit three homers off Imanaga, part of the 11 hits and 10 runs he allowed in three-plus innings in the Cubs’ 11-1 loss. The Cubs (36-40) managed just one unearned run and four hits against left-hander José Quintana, going 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position on the day.

With Brown and left-hander Jordan Wicks (right oblique strain) on the injured list, it provides young pitchers an opportunity to watch, listen and absorb more of their teammates while being forced out of action .

“You don’t know when the professor will appear, as I like to say,” Counsell said. “You just have your ears and eyes open to it.”

Injuries to Brown and Wicks forced veteran Kyle Hendricks back into the rotation after spending three weeks in the bullpen following a disastrous start to the season. Hendricks dazzled Wednesday in his first start since May 17, limiting the San Francisco Giants to one run in 5 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts, his most in nearly three years. Even after his best outing of the season, Hendricks made it clear he hadn’t earned a return to the rotation, citing the two injuries.

Brown, however, rejected Hendricks’ claim and is happy to see him do it again.

“He’s working his tail off, it literally wouldn’t surprise me if he did that for the rest of the season because of how good he is,” Brown said. “Our team is at its best when Kyle starts. When Kyle Hendricks is Kyle Hendricks, our team is the best it can be. Everyone in the locker room, every pitcher knows it. When Kyle does his thing, we make a really good team.

Gabe talks again about what’s happening Tuesday night as the Chicago Cubs try to come back from several points against the Chicago White Sox.