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Chicago Sun Times
Chicago Sun-Times
22 Jul 2023

NextImg:Cubs activate Dansby Swanson from IL; he will bat sixth Saturday

After playing all 162 games last season, Cubs All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson said he was going “stir crazy” while on the injured list for just over two weeks with a left heel contusion.

“I feel like I was essentially an assistant coach for the last two weeks, it was driving me nuts,” said Swanson, who was activated for Saturday’s game while first baseman Jared Young was optioned to Triple-A.

“Dansby’s really important to our success,” said manager David Ross. “He sees a lot. He’s very aware of the surroundings, how the game is moving.”

Both Swanson’s wife and his manager think he could have a future in coaching, but his return to the field bolsters the Cubs infield defense while lightening the workload on slumping double play partner Nico Hoerner.

Even with Nick Madrigal continuing a rehab assignment this weekend, Swanson batting sixth on Saturday pushes the Cubs closer to their best lineup during a late-July stretch where the clubhouse can at least theoretically hang some hopes on playing their way into keeping this player group together at the trade deadline.

“Each game, each moment is obviously important,” said Swanson when asked if there was an extra sting to being sidelined during a crucial stretch. “So in that regard, no. But overall, I love competing and love being out with the guys. It just stinks sometimes when you’re on the side and not able to be out there.”

Swanson could be found pregame testing his heel by running the bases the previous two days, which Ross said was the final step for feeling comfortable enough to activate him. But Swanson dropped a few hints that his left foot is something he will need to at least be cognizant of as he makes his return.

“I’ve always had a good feel for controlling the pace that I need, so I’ll be smart with myself,” Swanson said. “With a heel injury, any type of movement, any type of way, I’ve had to build up and through. I wouldn’t be out there if I didn’t feel I was able to be a productive baseball player.”

Swanson has hit .258/.343/.409 with 10 home runs in his first 83 games in a Cub uniform. As his return moved Hoerner back to second base, Christopher Morel was pushed to the designated hitter slot on Saturday. In continuation of a trend against right-handed opposing starting pitchers, Mike Tauchman started in center field while Cody Bellinger mans first base.

That alignment has eliminated the role for now-optioned Young, and resigned struggling first baseman Trey Mancini to the bench for a second-straight game.