Cubs manager Joe Maddon has emphasized that there is no established finish line for Craig Kimbrel's comeback from a right elbow issue. There is, however, a finite amount of time remaining in the regular season.
Kimbrel took another step forward on Sunday in his quest to rejoin Chicago's bullpen before the calendar flips to October. The closer completed a 20-pitch bullpen session, firing fastballs and curveballs without issue and registering what the Cubs felt were normal readings for a second mound session following a brief shutdown period.
"It was good," Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said prior to Sunday's game against the Pirates. "In terms of him and intensity, as he's progressing, it's just gotten better over the last five or six days. So I think he's on par with what we were expecting for today, in terms of velocity and spin and all the stuff we expect in a normal bullpen. We'll just see how he recovers."
The next step for the 31-year-old Kimbrel is seeing how he feels when he reports to Wrigley Field on Monday, when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Reds. Chicago will monitor his progress in workouts and playing catch before lining up another mound session. Hottovy said that would likely be a simulated setting against hitters by the middle of next week.