Chicago Cubs unsure whether Ben Zobrist will return this season: ‘Obviously, we miss him’

The Chicago Cubs are bracing for the possibility that utilityman Ben Zobrist may not play the rest of the season amid a divorce from his wife Julianna Zobrist.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon told the Chicago Sun-Times on Tuesday that he hopes it’s not the case, but the team is bracing for that reality either way.

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“I have to think that way, absolutely,” Maddon said. “I hope that’s not the case. But he’s at the point now where if he chose to come back, it’s going to take him awhile to get back up to speed, too. We have to mentally be prepared that we will not have him.”

Zobrist took a leave of absence from the team about three weeks ago to deal with a personal issue. It was later revealed he filed for legal separation from his wife in Tennessee, alleging Julianna had been “guilty of inappropriate marital conduct,” according to the Tennessean.

2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist #18 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with his wife Julianna Zobrist after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

2016 World Series MVP Ben Zobrist #18 of the Chicago Cubs celebrates with his wife Julianna Zobrist after defeating the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Julianna Zobrist filed for divorce in Illinois, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Maddon and Zobrist’s teammates Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo all told the newspaper they miss him.

“Ben has always been a big part of the team,” Schwarber said. “He’s been a guy who always puts in a professional at-bat every time he’s up there. He’s a contact guy, too, so without him here, obviously we miss him. But we still have to do our job. But he’s missed.

Rizzo added: “He’s one of our guys, one of our best buds, on and off the field. He brings a tremendous professional approach every day. As younger players, you look at Ben, and he’s a constant professional.”

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Zobrist has been an integral part of the Cubs organization since he joined the team in 2016. He helped the Cubs in a World Series that year and won the World Series MVP.

In 26 games this season, Zobrist was hitting .241 with a .596 OPS and 10 RBI. He last played for the Cubs on May 6 against the Miami Marlins. Since that time, the Cubs are 11-10 and hold only a half-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central division.

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