Montero ready for rehab assignment

Montero ready for rehab assignment

CHICAGO -- Catcher Miguel Montero, on the disabled list since April 25 with tightness in his lower back, is expected to begin a Minor League rehab assignment this week and could return by the weekend.

Montero took batting practice on the field on Monday and also ran the bases. The Cubs were trying to determine which Minor League affiliate to send Montero to.

"It's getting close to getting him out and playing a little bit," manager Joe Maddon said.

• Maddon had dinner on Sunday night with former Bears coach Mike Ditka, and the conversation included the Bears' famed "46 defense." Maddon also learned that Ditka is up to date on how the Cubs are playing.

"He's from western Pennsylvania, same kind of background growing up," Maddon said. "We like the same kind of foods, he likes red wine. He's watching everything we're doing. He loves what we're doing. It was just good conversation between football and baseball, what he had done in the past and what's going on here now.

"He's just as he appears -- a tough old football guy," Maddon said of the 76-year-old Ditka. "I know a lot of guys like him, so the conversation is very easy."

Jake Arrieta had trouble commanding his pitches on Sunday, but catcher Tim Federowicz isn't too worried. Arrieta lasted five innings and did not get a decision in the Cubs' 4-3, 13-inning win over the Nationals.

"[Clayton Kershaw] went through that in L.A., too," said Federowicz, who was with the Dodgers for four seasons. "Each year he kept having a better year than the year before. Every time he had one bad outing -- he had a really bad one against the D-backs and gave up eight runs, and everyone thought something was wrong.

"[Arrieta] will be fine," Federowicz said. "His stuff is still there. Command is something you go through. It shows the type of team we have, to still be able to win that game. He kept us in it and the bullpen kept us in it and we were able to win."

• Maddon may play Kris Bryant more in left field than at third base in order to get Tommy La Stella and Javier Baez at-bats.

• On Monday, Cubs Charities and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation announced more than $1 million in grants to nonprofit organizations serving those in need in the Chicago area. McCormick Foundation's Cubs Care has donated more than $20 million to Chicago nonprofit organizations since its inception.

This is the 12th consecutive year more than $1 million has been donated to Chicago communities through Cubs Care and Cubs Charities. Cubs Care grants help organizations to provide youth health and wellness programs and education programs.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. 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.