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Cubs lefty Justin Steele expected to miss a month after injuring hamstring in 1st opening-day start

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele, center, leaves after injuring his left leg during the fifth inning of the team's baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The Chicago Cubs placed left-hander Justin Steele on the 15-day injured list Saturday and expect their opening-day starter to miss at least a month after straining his left hamstring against the Texas Rangers.

The Cubs recalled right-hander Ben Brown from Triple-A Iowa, with the 24-year-old available out of the bullpen Saturday night in what would be his major league debut after getting two starts among five appearances in spring training.

Steele had six strikeouts when he was injured with two outs in the fifth inning of the defending World Series champion Rangers' 4-3 victory in 10 innings in the opener Thursday. The teams were off Friday.

A first-time All-Star last season, Steele came off the mound to field Leody Taveras' sacrifice bunt when he lunged and fell awkwardly. He went down in foul territory, grabbing the area of his left hamstring. Steele left his first opening-day start after a brief visit from an athletic trainer.

Manager Craig Counsell said the medical staff wants Steele walking without a limp before putting a rehab plan in place. Counsell said he doesn't expect Steele to pitch in April, but considers the news good and believes the 28-year-old will be back in May.

Steele was 16-5 with a 3.06 ERA in 30 starts last season, when he finished fifth in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

Brown was 6-8 with a 5.33 ERA in 22 games, including 15 starts, for Triple-A Iowa last season. A 33rd-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2017, Brown was acquired in a 2022 trade that sent reliever David Robertson to the Phillies.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB