Cubs place Craig Kimbrel on injured list, expect Willson Contreras to miss extended time

The Chicago Cubs got some tough injury news on Monday as they enter the final months of the season holding a slim lead in the NL Central.

Closer Craig Kimbrel is headed to the injured list, and the hamstring injury to catcher Willson Contreras will keep him sidelined for an extended period.

Kimbrel to rest ailing knee

Kimbrel is suffering right knee inflammation and is expected to miss at least 10 days with the ailment. He had an MRI on Saturday after experiencing discomfort in the knee.

He told reporters Monday that he could pitch through the injury, but the decision was made to get rest to prevent the inflammation from getting worse.

“Instead of making a bigger problem than it is, we’ll let it calm down and get back out there,” Kimbrel said. “It’s the smart decision to let it rest.”

Manager Joe Maddon told reporters that the Cubs would use a bullpen committee to fill the closer’s role until Kimbrel is ready to return.

Tough timing

Kimbrel, who has posted a 5.68 ERA while converting nine of 11 save opportunities since signing with the Cubs in June, said he felt like he “was getting real close” and is disappointed that he has to take a break from finding his All-Star form.

The Cubs are down a pair of key players in their tight NL Central battle. (Reuters)

Contreras expected to miss a month

The Cubs also received MRI results from the hamstring strain Contreras suffered Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers. They expect their All-Star catcher to miss at least four weeks with the Grade 2 strain.

He’s not expected to perform any activity until two weeks into the recovery when he hopes to start jogging.

“The guys on the team know I can’t control this, what’s happening, but I can control how good I can do my recovery,” Contreras said Monday. “I’ve got to be smart about it. I’m not going to rush it, and by the time I get back I’m going to be 100 percent.”

Contreras is slashing .275/.365/.525 this season with 19 home runs and 57 RBI, earning a second consecutive All-Star nod in the process.

Chicago just traded backup catcher

The Cubs will have to look to the minor leagues for depth in his absence after trading Martin Maldonado to the Houston Astros ahead of last week’s trade deadline.

Victor Caratini will serve as Chicago’s primary catcher in Contreras’ absence.

Entering Monday, the Cubs held a 1.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central with the Brewers four games back in the standings.

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