MILWAUKEE – Julio Borbon got the news a little after 12 p.m. on Friday and checked out of his hotel room in Arlington, Texas.
Borbon flew into O’Hare International Airport and rode in a town car some 80 miles north to Milwaukee, pulling into Miller Park a few minutes before the game ended.
Borbon threw on a Cubs uniform for the first time, warmed up in the dugout and pinch-ran for Dioner Navarro with two outs in the ninth inning. David DeJesus, the potential go-ahead run, saw two pitches before Borbon went with the green light and got thrown out trying to steal second base.
Game over: Brewers 5, Cubs 4.
“That’s what I want,” Borbon said. “If it happens again tomorrow, I’ll be ready to do it. I want to be in that situation. That’s what I was brought here to do. I won’t back down.”
The Cubs continued to reshape their roster, claiming Borbon off waivers from the Rangers and adding another option to their crowded outfield. All this turnover by Game 15 probably isn’t what team executives envisioned on Opening Day, but it’s the nature of the business and another sign of an underperforming 5-10 team.
The Cubs see some of the potential that made the Rangers take Borbon out of the University of Tennessee with the 35th overall pick in the 2007 draft.
“It’s another way of getting the organization stronger,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It probably won’t be the same roster a week from now. But whatever happens from here on out, it’s just getting a young guy in that’s had big-league success already. And then we’ll see where we go.”
The Cubs are waiting on reinforcements. Ian Stewart (quad) is more than a week away, though Sveum indicated he will probably be the starting third baseman after he completes his rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa. Scott Baker – a potential solid piece for the rotation – won’t resume his throwing program until the end of April as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
To make room for Borbon, the Cubs designated infielder Alberto Gonzalez for assignment. They have already rearranged their bullpen this week, adding veterans Kevin Gregg and Kameron Loe. Cody Ransom – claimed off waivers on Tuesday from the Padres – is the only infielder off the bench for now. Utility guy Brent Lillibridge and reliever Hisanori Takahashi were both sent to Iowa.
The Cubs have possible short-term assets across the outfield in Nate Schierholtz, David DeJesus, Scott Hairston and Alfonso Soriano (if there’s a fit and he decided to approve a trade). Plus former Red Sox outfielder Ryan Sweeney (1.212 OPS) and first-round pick Brett Jackson are trying to work their way up from Iowa.
Borbon, 27, hit .283 with seven homers and 73 RBI in 216 games covering parts of four seasons with the Rangers. He’s another piece that could give the Cubs some flexibility this summer.
“I’m just happy to be here,” Borbon said. “I’ll get my legs back under me and we’ll see what happens.”