Chicago Cubs players haven’t been sure whether Ben Zobrist would return this season, but the president of baseball operations, Theo Epstein, was optimistic Thursday about the possibility of his return.
Zobrist was placed on the restricted list as it was revealed he was going to through a divorce with his wife, Christian pop singer Julianna Zobrist. He reportedly accused her of “improper marital conduct.”
While Cubs players have expressed that they miss Zobrist and were unsure if he would return, Epstein was bit more hopeful about the 2016 World Series MVP on Friday.
“I think he's got an idea in mind of how he would like this to go, that his priorities are clear and it's family first,” Epstein told reporters, according to the Chicago Tribune. “So for the immediate future, that's what he's going to be attending to. Certainly, the door is open and the possibility of a return is there for him later in the season.”
Epstein added: “We'll see how things evolve. We'd all love to see him back here, and he'd love to come back. So we'll see if that can come to fruition.”
Zobrist left the team May 8 and a week later it was revealed he filed for legal separation from his wife while she filed for divorce. Epstein said he has remained in contact with Zobrist.
“I think there's been a little definition added to it ever since we last spoke. But his priorities have to be with his family situation, and there could be a point later on that would allow him to get ready to come back, but nothing has been determined yet,” he said.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon told the Chicago Sun-Times last month he hopes Zobrist returns this season but was bracing for the reality he may not return.
“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 was hitting .241 with a .596 OPS and 10 RBI in 26 games for the Cubs this season.