Kyle Schwarber nearing return from rib cage strain

ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Cubs catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber says he's pain-free and ready to return to the lineup, but the team will be cautious as he rehabs a rib cage strain.

"I'm champing at the bit to get back," Schwarber said Monday morning. "I want to play right now.

"There's still a process that needs to go on but I feel comfortable right now. ... You have to respect the injury."

Rib/oblique ailments can re-aggravate easily so while Schwarber took some batting practice in the cage on Monday he's still not assured of playing in the series against the St. Louis Cardinals which concludes on Wednesday.

"I took swings off the tee the other day," Schwarber said. "Today [Monday] was the first day full-go. It felt good."

Schwarber, along with manager Joe Maddon, didn't rule the rookie out of the series, but there's no reason for the Cubs to rush anything.

"Give a day or two to heal," Schwarber said. "Now it's about being smart and making sure it doesn't get re-injured."

Schwarber also tested his throwing motion during pregame activities with no ill effects. He has missed the last four games after feeling something in his side during indoor batting practice. An MRI revealed the rib strain.