CHICAGO — Cubs utilityman Ben Zobrist has been on the restricted list since May 8, five days before he and his wife, Julianna Zobrist, filed for divorce in separate states. Zobrist, 38, is in the final season of a four-year, $56 million deal he signed as a free agent in December 2015.
If his time with the Cubs is done — he hasn’t played in a game since May 6 — it likely would mean the end of a 14-year major league career that included three All-Star appearances and the 2016 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. A look back at his path to the Cubs and some of his major league highlights:
About a month after his Eureka High School team lost in the IHSA Class A regionals, Zobrist attends a coaches tryout for $50. A few weeks later he signs a scholarship to play baseball at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
Zobrist helps lead Olivet Nazarene to three conference championships and the program’s first two NAIA World Series appearances in 2002 and 2003, earning All-America honors.
June 7, 2004
A year after Zobrist transferred to Dallas Baptist for his senior season, the Houston Astros select him in the sixth round of the draft.
July 12, 2006
The Astros trade Zobrist and Mitch Talbot to the Rays for Aubrey Huff and cash.
Aug. 1, 2006
At age 25, Zobrist makes his major league debut, starting at shortstop and batting ninth against the Tigers at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The switch hitter goes 0-for-4 in the Rays’ 10-4 loss.
Aug. 4, 2006
After an 0-for-11 start, Zobrist gets his first hit with a single to right-center off Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling in the fifth inning of a 3-2 Rays loss.
After sitting out the Rays’ four-game victory over the White Sox in the American League Division Series, Zobrist makes his first postseason appearance, entering as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the ALCS against the Red Sox. Facing Hideki Okajima, he grounds out to shortstop in a game the Rays won 9-8 in 11 innings. On Oct. 22, Zobrist starts in right field in Game 1 of the World Series against the Phillies and goes 1-for-3 — a single off Cole Hamels.
Zobrist enjoys a breakout season, hitting .297 with 27 home runs, 91 RBI, a .405 on-base percentage and .549 slugging percentage in a career-high 152 games (his previous high was 62 in 2008). His 8.6 WAR is the best among position players in the AL, and he is selected to the All-Star Game for the first time.
Jan. 10, 2015
The Rays trade Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Athletics for John Jaso, Boog Powell, Daniel Robertson and cash. In nine seasons with the Rays, Zobrist hit .264 with 1,016 hits, 114 home runs and 511 RBI in 1,064 games.
July 28, 2015
The A’s trade Zobrist (and cash) to the Royals for Aaron Brooks and Sean Manaea. Zobrist played in only 67 games with the Athletics, hitting .268 with six homers and 33 RBI.
Nov. 1, 2015
Zobrist scores the final run in a five-run 12th inning in Game 5 of the World Series, helping the Royals top the Mets 7-2 for their first championship in 30 years.
Dec. 8, 2015
Zobrist signs a four-year, $56 million free-agent deal with the Cubs.
April 4, 2016
Zobrist goes 2-for-5 in his Cubs debut, a 9-0 victory over the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
Nov. 2, 2016
Game 7 of the World Series at Progressive Field in Cleveland is tied 6-6 in the 10th inning. With runners on first and second with one out, Zobrist comes to bat against Indians righty Bryan Shaw. On a 1-2 count, Zobrist slaps a double past third baseman Jose Ramirez down the left-field line, scoring Albert Almora Jr. with the go-ahead run. They add a run, then hold on for an 8-7 victory — and their first championship since 1908. Zobrist, who went 10-for-28 (.357), is named the World Series MVP.
May 12, 2018
In an Instagram post, Zobrist complains about a letter MLB sent him threatening a fine and discipline for wearing black spikes — shoes must have at least 51 percent of the team’s designated color (blue in the Cubs’ case), per MLB rules. Zobrist said he was inspired by the old black spikes worn by Ernie Banks and Stan Musial.
Feb. 23, 2019
After missing the first four days of full-squad workouts to attend to a personal matter, Zobrist arrives in Mesa, Ariz., and vows to be more of a leader in the clubhouse.
May 8, 2019
Two days after going 1-for-4 in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins at Wrigley Field, Zobrist is granted a leave of absence, and the Cubs place him on the restricted list.
May 13, 2019
The Zobrists both file for a divorce in separate states, Ben in Williamson County, Tenn., where he resides in the offseason, and Julianna in Cook County. Ben’s filing stated his wife “has been guilty of inappropriate marital conduct which renders further cohabitation impossible,” according to the Tennessean. “Husband is unsure if the marriage can be salvaged.”
May 17, 2019
Julianna withdraws her divorce filing in Cook County.
July 14, 2019
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Zobrist will not return “anytime soon” and added he has not recently been in contact with him. “I have not texted Z’o in a while and I need to do that,” he said. “I’ve been relying on (Cubs general manager) Theo (Epstein) to carry on that conversation.”
July 15, 2019
Epstein says he plans to speak “soon” with Zobrist. “We’re still hopeful he returns,” Epstein said. ”
July 26, 2019
Epstein announces that Zobrist is planning to return and will begin a minor league assignment next weekend. Zobrist would need to be reinstated from the restricted list by Aug. 31 to be playoff-eligible.
Aug. 2-4, 2019
In three games with the Class A South Bend Cubs, Zobrist goes 2-for-9 with a walk, two strikeouts and an RBI.
Aug. 8, 2019
Zobrist’s next stint? With the Class A Myrtle Beach Pelicans.