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Andrelton Simmons inches toward return to Chicago Cubs

When the Iowa Cubs wrapped up a six-game series at St. Paul against the Saints on Sunday, Andrelton Simmons boarded a bus with the rest of the team to continue his rehab assignment in Des Moines.

Simmons, a Gold Glove infielder, didn’t hop on a plane for the short trip to Des Moines like most major league players do.

“I kind of got the minor league experience again,” Simmons said with a smile.

It’s far from the experience that Simmons was hoping to have after signing a one-year contract worth $4 million with the Chicago Cubs back in March. Simmons, who has played with the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins, was supposed to add depth to the infield and defensive dominance for the Cubs.

But that hasn’t happened.

Simmons, who played in just one spring training game, has been on the list of injuries all season with right shoulder inflammation. The Cubs have missed his glove, which has routinely ranked among the best shortstops in defensive runs saved including last season with 15. And they’ve certainly missed his presence during a rough stretch which hasn’t been easy on Simmons or the Cubs.

“I know the team’s not quite where it wants to be up there,” Simmons said. “They have some good games but they have some bad days. I’m just trying to get healthy enough and be in shape enough to where I can contribute and help win baseball games.”

PREVIOUSLY: Cubs promote prospect Nelson Velazquez to Iowa Cubs

With the I-Cubs, Simmons is inching toward a return. He played a couple of games in Arizona and then joined Iowa to begin his rehab assignment on Saturday in St. Paul. Simmons went 1-for-3 with a single and was lifted in the sixth inning during his first game. The following day, he was the designated hitter and went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. Against the Omaha Storm Chasers on Monday, Simmons went 0-for-5.

“I’m making progress,” Simmons said. “I’m not quite where I want to be but I’m getting there.”

Simmons said it will take more time. Getting at bats is important. But his work in the field may decide when Simmons feels like he’s ready to complete his rehab assignment. He didn’t get any opportunities in his first game and only hit in his second. Monday’s game against Omaha offered him his best chances, Simmons cleanly handled all three grounders hit his way including a bouncer up the middle.

“There’s no exact date or anything like that,” Simmons said. “Hopefully it’s sooner. Hopefully in a week or so.”

PREVIOUSLY:Mark Prior delivered a memorable debut with the I-Cubs 20 years ago

While Nico Hoerner has played well at shortstop for the Chicago Cubs this season, Simmons believes he can still have a huge impact on the big league club this season as a leader in the field. And possibly inject some much-needed life into the a struggling Cubs club.

“Sometimes somebody new comes in and they come in with a little more energy or a little more excitement and they might help bring everybody else up,” Simmons said. “That’s what I’m hoping to bring when I come back.”

Tommy Birch, the Register’s sports enterprise and features reporter, has been working at the newspaper since 2008. He’s the 2018 and 2020 Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Reach him at [email protected] or 515-284-8468. Follow him on Twitter @TommyBirch.

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