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Cubs place Cody Bellinger on the IL with a knee injury, activate Nico Hoerner

The former NL MVP, who’s enjoyed a career renaissance in his first year in Chicago, has been out for the last few days after hurting his knee making a catch at the wall.

Cody Bellinger of the Chicago Cubs bats against the Minnesota Twins on May 12, 2023 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

It’s not a surprise that big shake-ups have come to the Chicago Cubs amid a prolonged May skid, but not all of those shake-ups are positive. A few days after injuring his knee while making a spectacular catch in Houston, Cody Bellinger — arguably the team’s best player so far this season — will need a stint on the IL.

Mike Tauchman has been recalled from Triple-A Iowa to take Bellinger’s place in the outfield, although the red-hot Christopher Morel will likely slide into the regular center field role (and becomes a must-add in all fantasy baseball leagues). The team has yet to announce a timetable for Bellinger’s return, but it’s a good sign that he’s dealing with just a contusion rather than any sort of structural damage. If all goes well, he could be back by the end of the month.

The Cubs better hope so, because Bellinger’s performance has been just about the only silver lining as they’ve slid to 19-24 and third place in NL Central after a hot start. After a dismal last two years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago took a chance on the former NL MVP, betting that a change of scenery and some tweaks to his swing could get him back on track. That bet has paid off in a big way so far, as Bellinger has slashed .271/.337/.493 with seven homers and nine steals in his first 37 games.

It’s not all bad news for the North Siders on the injury front, though: Second baseman and leadoff man Nico Hoerner was activated off the IL and will start on Friday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. The former first-round pick has been out since early May after suffering a hamstring strain while running the bases, short-circuiting a breakout campaign in which he’s hit .303 with two homers and 12 steals.