Cubs: Kimbrel close to return, could be activated this week

The Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs says right-handed closer Craig Kimbrel could be activated later this week.

Kimbrel signed a three-year, $43 million contract on June 7. He is set to pitch in another game at Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Monday the team will evaluate his progress.

Epstein called Tuesday's outing an important checkpoint for Kimbrel. He said the team will see how Kimbrel is feeling and make a decision on what direction to go after Tuesday.

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Epstein said: ''There's certainly a chance that at the very end of this homestand or early on the next road trip we could be seeing him.''

Kimbrel allowed one run in 2/3 innings for Iowa on Saturday. It was his only run allowed in 2 2/3 innings over three appearances.

Epstein said the team wants to get through Tuesday and see how Kimbrel responded to back-to-back outings Friday and Saturday.

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