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Friday, January 29, 2010
Cubs' plan for Nady: Caution

By BRUCE LEVINE

Xavier Nady
Xavier Nady's best season came in 2008 when he split the season between the Pirates and Yankees and hit 25 home runs with 97 runs batted in.

In the case of Xavier Nady, the main question that needs to be answered before the season is if the Chicago Cubs' new acquisition will be healthy enough to play everyday in the outfield by May 1.

The Cubs' plan is to allow Nady to rehab the elbow on which he had a second ligament transplant in July 2009 and still be available to contribute on the 25-man roster as a hitter.

Normally with a Tommy John surgery, complete recovery time for a pitcher is between 11 and 13 months. In the case of a position player that time frame is more like nine or 10.

Nady's agent Scott Boras had this analysis of his client's recovery time.

"We're not going to rush X early on," Boras said. "X knows coming into this that there is a variable to it. We also believe that variation is days rather than any extended period."

Boras compared Nady's rehabilitation to another client, outfielder Jose Guillen who had the same surgery.

"Guillen had surgery in the same time frame (as Nady) and was ready for the season the following year," Boras said. "That is about the best model [we have]. We are talking about athletes who are in tremendous shape whose healing powers are usually well above the norm for normal individuals. The Guillen scenario is the best, most controlling viewpoint we have to give us an indication as to when [Nady] can return to normal play."

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry also is on board with the process to get the most out of Nady and keep him healthy.

"X was in town Thursday," Hendry said. "All the medical reports say he's right where he needs to be post-op from last summer, obviously healing properly. [Doctors] saw no restriction with the bat going into camp. We just needed to do the best thing and assure ourselves that he can stay healthy not only for this year but for the rest of his career."

Hendry went on to explain the Cubs' philosophy for Nady in spring training.

"We're in no rush at all about putting excessive effort into throwing in spring training," Hendry saud. "We don't expect to do things that really don't make any sense. First and foremost, to be paid knocking in runs and hitting the baseball which he has for the most part of his career."

Hendry went on to explain what he feels he is getting with Nady.

"We know he can play, we know he can hit, and we know he's a quality guy off the field and in the clubhouse," Hendry said. "That's what we're looking for."

Nady's most productive season was 2008 when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 97 runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees. Before signing Nady, the Cubs looked at his good numbers in New York after a late-July 2008 trade sent him from Pittsburgh to the Yankees. They believe that playing on the big stage in a big market will not bother him.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella loves hitting, so to me it's clear that if Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome or Marlon Byrd struggle, the manager now has a weapon to replace a low batting average or an injured player with a top RBI bat.

Nady's deal is for $3.3 million with a chance to make another $2 million in performance bonuses. Look for Nady to be mostly a pinch hitter and part-time replacement in April when cold weather could be a factor in his rehab.