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Chicago Cubs RHP Mark Leiter Jr. is hoping for a minimal IL stint

Chicago Cubs RHP Mark Leiter Jr. is hoping for a minimal IL stint

Chicago Cubs RHP Mark Leiter Jr. is hoping for a minimal IL stint

SAN FRANCISCO — Coming off a career-high in appearances, Chicago Cubs reliever Mark Leiter Jr. learned what it means to manage his workload during an entire season out of the bullpen.

His knowledge and understanding from last season led Leiter to let the Cubs know his forearm felt tired rather than trying to continue to let it go. After manager Craig Counsell held him out for three days, the Cubs placed Leiter on the 15-day injured list Sunday with a strained right forearm. Counsell and Leiter are both optimistic he will only need minimal time.

“The hardest part is knowing, as a relief pitcher, what’s too much and what’s normal, because you’re going out there with a percentage less than normal every night, you’re going to come out with your best.” Leiter said Monday. “Some days you bounce back better than others and you just find a way to get the job done. So I think I understand that if you take care of the little things in the short term, it has a better withdrawal effect throughout the year, as opposed to just trying to mask it and fight through it, when maybe you could avoid everything. “

Leiter, 33, has arguably been the Cubs’ most reliable shortstop this year. His struggles over his last four outings, eight runs allowed in 3 1/3 innings, coincided with the forearm issue that Counsell indicated had been brewing for the past two weeks. In the end, they decided that trying to go through with it for the next three months wasn’t the smartest way to go.

“He’s a competitor. If you want to pitch, you can pitch, but we just saw his recovery slow down,” Counsell said Monday. “So you take a little break and then you deal with it and then when it doesn’t, then you say let’s take a longer break and make sure and get rid of it so we don’t have to deal with it for the next three months.

“It’s never easy to hit the pause button, but it’s the right thing to do and I think it gives him the best chance to have a good second half of the season.”

Leiter leads the Cubs in appearances (32) with only one other reliever (Héctor Neris, 29) pitching in at least 25 games. Leiter’s nasty splitter has made him a lefty reliever, a responsibility that could fall to lefty Luke Little, recalled from Triple-A Iowa in the corresponding move, and righties Tyson Miller and Hayden Wesneski.

“Everybody pitched pretty well overall and it’s just a matter of having an opportunity to keep showing it and stepping up when somebody has to take a little time off,” Leiter said. “We have a lot of depth to continue moving forward.”