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Chicago Cubs’ Nico Hoerner to undergo further testing on right hand after X-rays are ‘somewhat inconclusive’

CINCINNATI — Chicago Cubs second baseman Nico Hoerner is hoping his sore right hand is merely a day-to-day situation.

Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene hit Hoerner with a 96.5-mph pitch on the back of his right hand during the fourth inning of Thursday’s 8-4 loss. Hoerner stayed in the game, though postgame X-rays were “somewhat inconclusive,” manager Craig Counsell said Friday. Hoerner expected to play Friday, but when he arrived to Great American Ball Park he wasn’t able to grip and swing the bat as he wanted.

David Bote instead got the start. Hoerner was scheduled to undergo further testing, including a CT scan. Hoerner entered as a pinch runner with two outs in the ninth of their 3-2 loss for Miguel Amaya, who hit an RBI double. Patrick Wisdom struck out swinging to end the game.

“If he felt good, I don’t think there’d be a reason to do tests,” Counsell said.

In the moments after it happened, Hoerner was worried because he suffered a hairline fracture in his right wrist in 2019 on the same type of check swing.

“Unfortunately it happens a decent amount, but it seems like I got pretty lucky,” Hoerner said. “I mean, I was able to finish the game obviously yesterday and obviously that’s always a good sign, feeling optimistic about that.

“Hopefully it’s just bruising and something that cleans up once you get inflammation out of there.”

The Cubs also made three roster moves Friday. Left-hander Jordan Wicks and right-hander Keegan Thompson were activated from the injured list. Thompson was subsequently optioned to Triple-A Iowa along with right-hander Porter Hodge.

Wicks will be used out of the bullpen and was available Friday night. The Cubs weighed whether to keep him stretched out and starting at Triple A versus having Wicks in their bullpen and giving them another option.

“We don’t have a rotation need right now,” Counsell said. “If one comes up he’s obviously a big candidate. … If something happens, and if we’re a week or 10 days into this, if he would have to start he will not be stretched out. He’ll be at a certain pitch count but not a fully stretched-out starter.”

In the last six years, dating to his freshman season at Kansas State, Wicks never has pitched out of the bullpen. He has been asking a lot of questions to Counsell, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and Cubs relievers who have made the same transition about the timing when it comes to pitching in relief. Wicks appreciates his teammates being valuable references and extremely helpful on how to stay prepared and what to expect in this situation.

“For me, it’s just trying to continue to do what I do and get outs in any way that I can,” Wicks told the Tribune on Friday. “It’s just kind of trying to keep it as similar as I can to starting and just doing what I do and getting out the way that I do. Trying to keep it as normal as possible and just trying to help us.”

Wicks posted a 4.70 ERA in five starts (23 innings) before landing on the 15-day injured list April 25 with a left forearm strain that caused him to miss 35 games. Wicks sounded excited about the opportunity despite losing his rotation spot while he was sidelined. Wicks said his move to the pen highlights the quality of the Cubs’ starting pitching depth.

“I’m extremely blessed for the opportunity because I know there’s also alternatives of how this could have gone and I’m blessed to have been given the opportunity to still help us win baseball games and still help us contribute,” Wicks said. “That can you learn in this different role about yourself and to help you become better as a ballplayer and so for me, all I’m going to do is try and help us win games.”