The hopes of the Chicago Cubs' 2009 season may rest on the shoulders of one player.
Aramis Ramirez is set to make his return Monday.
Ramirez is coming off the DL after dislocating his left shoulder back on May 9. In rehab assignments, Ramirez was 3-for-6 with three walks. Lou Piniella said that he will insert Ramirez in the cleanup spot behind Derek Lee.
In the last five full seasons with the Cubs, Ramirez has been the offensive leader, averaging 31 home runs, 105 RBI, and batting .302. Along with his offense, his defense has steadily improved since coming to the Cubs in 2003.
Before his injury, he was batting .364 with four homers and 16 RBI in only 18 games this season. With the injury and the two-month layoff, his numbers will decline. But his return is desperately needed for the Cubs' stagnant offense.
With the return of Ramirez also comes the return of other key players like Angel Guzman, who has been the most consistent reliever in the bullpen with a 2.53 ERA. Reed Johnson is also set to return Monday, bringing his stellar glove back to the outfield.
With these returns, there will also be departures to make room on the roster. Jeff Samardzija and Kevin Hart are likely to be demoted. With only one week until the All-Star game, the short bullpen can work.
The position player that will be sent down is a tough decision.
Jake Fox, Sam Fuld, Micah Hoffpauir, and Andres Blanco all have played a role in the Cubs still being in the race for the Central Division.
The 2009 Cubs season has rested on the shoulders of Aramis Ramirez, and when his shoulder was hurt, the Cubs were at their worst. Now, with Ramirez healthy, can his shoulders withstand the weight of the Cubs and their fans' hopes for the 2009 season?
We will soon find out.