Clevenger takes swings, eyeing return

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs catcher Steve Clevenger began the process of returning to the team on Wednesday, taking some swings in pre-game for the first time since straining an oblique on April 26.

“I took some swings today in the cage, 15 off the tee and 15 from soft toss,” Clevenger said. “It all went pretty good. I didn’t feel any pain and expect to repeat the process (Thursday).”

The rookie left-handed hitter made the Cubs as the backup out of spring training and was batting .500 (11 for 22) in limited duty behind starter Geovany Soto before the injury.

The next step for Clevenger is a rehab assignment soon.

“We are going to take it lightly over the next day or two and then increase the workload,” he said. “The medical staff is surprised. This was supposed to be a four- to six- week injury, and I’m ahead of that timetable.”

It appears a minor league stint could come as early as next week barring any setbacks.

“They haven’t told me anything yet,” Clevenger said. “The plan is to send me out after this homestand to get me some at-bats. Hopefully they can have me back for Pittsburgh (May 25).”