Cubs outfield prospect Alexander Canario overcomes injuries to earn September call-up

The Cubs recalled Canario and selected right-hander Shane Greene from Triple-A Iowa before their doubleheader Friday against the Reds.

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CINCINNATI — Lying on his back in foul territory and writhing in pain, Cubs outfield prospect Alexander Canario felt doubt sweep over him.

‘‘I definitely had that thought in my mind,’’ Canario said through an interpreter. ‘‘ ‘Wow, I may not play ever again.’ ’’

In reality, the biggest milestone in his baseball career was yet to come. The Cubs called up Canario and right-handed pitcher Shane Greene before their doubleheader against the Reds on Friday, when rosters expanded to 28 players for September.

‘‘Starting off the year, I was in a boot,’’ Canario said. ‘‘Just going from there to this point and everything playing out, it was really incredible.’’

If it hadn’t been for a freak accident on the bases in the Dominican Winter League last winter, Canario likely would have been a contributor on the major-league team earlier this season. Triple-A Iowa hitting coach John Mallee said as much in a conversation with the Sun-Times last week in Indianapolis.

‘‘When he comes up to bat, there’s something loud that’s gonna happen,’’ Mallee said. ‘‘You feel it. Everybody feels it. You can sense that he’s really getting close to where he needs to be.’’

Canario had the second-most home runs (37) in the minors last season, and his power has returned in recent weeks.

‘‘We’re excited to have him up here,’’ president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. ‘‘He’s a really good player. He’s a great kid. He’s earned it. What a horrible rehab to go through after such a special season last year.’’

A little more than 10 months ago, Canario hit first base awkwardly while trying to beat out a grounder. He broke his left ankle and dislocated his left shoulder as he tumbled up the line. He had surgery on both joints.

‘‘I couldn’t do a lot of things for myself during that time,’’ Canario said. ‘‘But thankfully I had my mom there. She really helped me out and cared for me during that time.’’

Canario joined the Cubs in spring training, still in a boot. He went on rehab assignments in the Arizona Complex League and High-A South Bend before being activated. He returned to Triple-A in July.

Canario said the key to regaining his power was his timing.

‘‘Earlier in the season, he was a little bit late,’’ Mallee said. ‘‘The deeper you make contact in the zone, the higher the ground-ball rate will be and the less slug that you’ll have.’’

Now Canario is getting started earlier and making contact further out in front. Offensively, Mallee said Canario reminds him of Jorge Soler, whom Mallee coached on the 2015 and 2016 Cubs. He described Canario’s bat speed as ‘‘elite.’’

In his last 14 games at Triple-A, Canario hit .322 with six homers.

‘‘Happy for the young man,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘Has overcome a lot of adversity and being back in a space not too many people felt like he could get back [to] this quick. Did a nice job working hard to get to this moment in his career.’’

At this point in the season, the Cubs’ lineup is mostly set. Ross has made clear in the last few days that there aren’t starting spots open for September call-ups. Canario served as a power threat off the bench Friday.

‘‘Super-excited, super-happy,’’ Canario said. ‘‘I wasn’t expecting the news.’’

Yet here he is with the major-league team, in the midst of a playoff chase, in an important stretch of games against fellow National League wild-card contenders.

Contributing: James Fegan

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