Injured Schwarber completes pregame routine

Rookie may be close to returning from sore ribs

Injured Schwarber completes pregame routine

ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs' Kyle Schwarber did his regular pregame hitting routine in the batting cage and then played catch on the field on Monday for the first time since he was sidelined with sore right ribs. The rookie, who has not played since Tuesday, could be close to returning.

"Right now, it looks like he's doing OK with it and we'll evaluate it post [workout]," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before the series opener against the Cardinals.

Schwarber, who has been a key part of the Cubs' surge in the second half, batting .270 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs in 48 games, was able to hit off the batting tee on Saturday, then took Sunday off as part of his rehab.

"It felt good," Schwarber said of Monday's workout. "There's still a process that needs to go on. I'm feeling comfortable. I like the progress that's going on. I'm champing at the bit to get back. There's got to be a process, too."

He couldn't predict exactly when he'd return to the lineup.

"It's really day to day right now," Schwarber said. "You've got to respect the injury. You've got to respect how I feel, too. I feel good, but you have to respect the injury and give it a day or two to heal."

He felt the pain in his right side while hitting in the cage on Wednesday, and immediately shut down, which helped avoid a serious injury. The Cubs' medical staff is monitoring Schwarber and making sure he doesn't come back too soon.

"Now it's about being smart and making sure it doesn't get re-injured," Schwarber said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.