Feature photo of Pete Crow-Armstrong by Todd Johnson

It was devastating news when word came out that Brennen Davis would likely be shut down for an extended period time following a surgical procedure on his back. At the time, it was coming off the heels of a season-ending injury to fellow top prospect Ed Howard and paired with Cubs fans’ weariness of back injuries (see: Rizzo, Anthony), fans were rightfully worried.

The bright side of the injury diagnosis is that the surgery revealed no disc problems or structural damage with Davis’ back. Instead, it was a vascular malformation that was causing pain all the way down to his legs and likely impacting his performance on the field.

According to the always wonderful work of Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney at The Athletic, it appears as though the goal for Davis on his road to recovery is focused around the idea of making appearances in the Arizona Fall League. Opening Day for the league is on October 3rd this year, and we have seen the Cubs frequently use the league as a way for top prospects and players close to the big league level to get more at-bats after a semi-lost season. If he’s ready to roll by October, that seems to fit Davis’ situation perfectly.

An alternative, according to Sharma and Mooney, would be playing winter ball somewhere. We’ve seen the leagues in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Venezuela rise to prominence over the last few years, featuring “local” non-affiliated legends, top MLB prospects, MLB journeymen, and big leaguers nearing retirement. The competition in the winter ball leagues is tough and we see players improve their skills dramatically during their time there.

Regardless of where Davis gets some extra work in, it will be incredibly important as he enters the 2023 season in a nearly identical spot to his 2022 campaign. He will likely begin the year in Iowa needing only one hot stretch to deserve a call up to Chicago.

On the more short-term injury side of things, Pete Crow-Armstrong is set to return from a bruised right hand any day now. As Sharma and Mooney detail, PCA attempted to play through the injury after sliding into a base but was quickly shut down after informing his coaches.

Jed Hoyer explained that there was no reason for PCA to have to deal with the adjustment period of a new level (he was promoted to South Bend when the calendar flipped to June) while also attempting to play through a pesky injury.

PCA has now been out since June 10th and with a two-week time frame, that times out well with a potential return this weekend. The alternative would be giving the Gold Glove center fielder a few extra days (two games this weekend plus the Monday off-day) so he can come back fresh for the next series beginning Tuesday in Beloit.