CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta threw about 25 pitches off a mound on Thursday, but it wasn't a full-fledged bullpen session, which will come Saturday as the next step in the right-hander's rehab while he works his way back from a right hamstring strain sustained on Sept. 4.
"We've been cautious, but at the same time, we've been doing a lot of work each and every day," Arrieta said. "I've been bouncing back really well. There's been no carryover as far as soreness or tightness, so that's good. I've been able to bounce back without any issues. I still want to be smart about it but I feel like I'm close to getting back out there."
There is no specific timetable for when Arrieta would return, but he could get at least three starts before the regular season ends.
"It'd be nice to get three more," said Arrieta, who is 14-9 with a 3.48 ERA in 28 starts so far.
Because he hasn't been sidelined for too long, Arrieta said his strength and endurance are good. He said there have been times during the regular season in the past when he cuts back on his throwing days.
"I think we're in a really good spot," Arrieta said. "I feel this actually could be a blessing in disguise as far as getting a little time out and not having to rush back. If this [injury] were to happen today, it'd be a different story. I think we're in a good spot. As far as the exact time, I'm not certain but it will be soon."
Shortstop Addison Russell, sidelined since Aug. 3 with a strained right foot, took batting practice on Thursday and did some fielding drills. He is close to returning, and once he gets the go-ahead, he will most likely be eased into games, playing a few innings.
"Addy is feeling really good," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He is pain-free right now. Everybody likes what he's doing. He's getting very, very close."
• So far this season, Cubs closer Wade Davis has not pitched more than one inning in his 51 appearances entering Thursday. That could change. Maddon said he talked to the right-hander about possibly pitching more than one inning if needed, and Davis was OK with the change. Maddon said they would only do so if the other relievers were overused and the situation was right.
"He's aware, he's on board," Maddon said of Davis, who was 29-for-29 in save situations. "I'm trying to avoid it as long as we possibly can."
• Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation will donate $25,000 to Hurricane Irma relief efforts and his Tampa, Fla., restaurant, Ava, provided meals to the Salvation Army.
"My wife, Jaye, and I are fortunate to call Florida home," Maddon said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow residents, including neighbors and friends affected by Hurricane Irma. We are thankful for Florida's leadership and the many first responders who are leading recovery efforts in a state we truly have come to love."
The Salvation Army shelter was without power for several days, and someone there reached out to the Respect 90 Foundation for help. Food will be provided by 717 South and Ava, Maddon's Italian-inspired restaurant in South Tampa. Both restaurants recently had their power restored.
"This is our small attempt to help out," Maddon said.
Last month, Maddon's Burnout Classic Fundraiser benefited storm relief efforts in Houston.
• Major League Baseball has teamed up with Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer to go to bat against breast cancer. Lauren Smoke was selected as the Cubs' 2017 Bat Girl through the Honorary Bat Girl Contest, hosted on MLB.com. Unfortunately, Lauren lost her battle with breast cancer shortly after being announced as the winner.
Representing Lauren on Thursday was her cousin, Hillary Brannen, who delivered the lineup card at home plate.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.