Cubs managing a crisis: Cashner, Wells to DL


Cubs managing a crisis: Cashner, Wells to DL

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 10:24 a.m. Updated: 3:23 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney

Its only April 6, but already the Cubs have reached the seasons first crisis point.

Without flashing any warning signs, Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells are heading to the disabled list, leaving 40 percent of the Cubs rotation in doubt.

Cashner has been diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain. Wells has strained his right forearm. Neither starter will throw a baseball for two weeks, at which point they will be re-evaluated by the Cubs medical staff.

General manager Jim Hendry said Wednesday that he doesnt expect this to be a long-term health issue for Cashner or Wells, and ruled out surgery as an option for either pitcher.

Cashners parents traveled to Chicago for his first career major-league start. They watched their 24-year-old son keep the Arizona Diamondbacks completely off-balance, working the ball up and down, in and out.

Cashner felt something in the sixth inning around his 71st and 72nd pitches and was pulled after allowing just one run on two hits. He didnt even shower and headed straight to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for an MRI.

I dont think this is too serious, Cashner said. We caught it at the right time, jumped on it early. (Well) rehab it back and get it strong and be good to go.

The Texan always stays confident and does not like to show weakness. The Cubs invested their 2008 first-round pick in Cashner because of the smooth, easy way the ball leaves his right hand. He doesnt need a violent motion to generate velocity.

Hes never had anything but a blister, Hendry said. (He has a) great delivery thats about as easy a 95-to-97 mph (throw) as youre going to see. Great mechanics hes a scouts dream and a tough kid. It just came out of nowhere. There was never any discomfort.

Wells doesnt have much of a medical history either. The 28-year-old pitched as well as anyone in Cubs camp, displaying a renewed focus and commitment, and carried that momentum into Mondays 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Wells felt sore the next day and underwent an MRI that did not reveal any structural damage or elbow issues. He finished last season at 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA, but took great pride in making 32 starts and accounting for almost 200 innings. For the moment that durability is now in question.

Its a big year for me you want (to) get off to a great start, Wells said. You want to be a part of what I feel is something special here. To take some time off this early in the season is (disappointing). You just want to take care of it and make sure its not something thats going to linger throughout the season.

Im going to put on my best cheerleading outfit here and get myself healthy and make sure Im out here pulling for my teammates every day.

The Cubs are now on the clock to identify starters for Sunday in Milwaukee and next Tuesday in Houston. Theyll benefit from three off-days built into their April schedule.

Casey Coleman impressed many in the organization during his audition late last season, going 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts. The third-generation big-league pitcher is expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa to join the rotation.

The Cubs are also considering stretching out reliever James Russell for the other spot. When asked about two non-roster invitees to camp, Hendry indicated that Todd Wellemeyer isnt ready yet, and that Braden Looper isnt about to come out of retirement.

Forget about Carlos Silva he torched every bridge back to Chicago with his comments about pitching coach Mark Riggins. The entire industry has stayed away from Silva since his unconditional release.

Now the Cubs must be patient with Cashner and Wells and take the long view on two pitchers they could see in their rotation for years to come.

We will obviously proceed with extreme caution, Hendry said. Well find a way to get through it. No excuses. Nobodys going to feel sorry for you.

PatrickMooney is's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez antics show how this Cubs team doesn’t feel the same weight of history

Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez antics show how this Cubs team doesn’t feel the same weight of history

LOS ANGELES – Within minutes of the last out on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium, ESPN’s @SportsCenter account sent out a photo of Moises Alou at the Wrigley Field wall to more than 30 million Twitter followers: “The last time the Cubs were up 3-2 in an NLCS was Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Marlins. Most remember it as ‘the Bartman Game.’”

As Kerry Wood once said: “Irrelevant, dude.”
Look, the Cubs still need to find a way to beat either Clayton Kershaw or Rich Hill this weekend, with Kenley Jansen resting and waiting for the multiple-inning saves. The obligatory description for Kershaw is “the best pitcher on the planet.” Hill’s lefty curveball – and “the perceptual velocity” of his fastball – freezes hitters. Jansen has a mystical cutter reminiscent of the great Mariano Rivera. The top-heavy part of this Los Angeles playoff pitching staff has held the Cubs to zero runs in 16.1 innings.

But until proven otherwise, forget about this idea of a Cubs team weighed down by the history of a franchise that hasn’t played in the World Series since 1945.

Just look at Javier Baez getting in Anthony Rizzo’s airspace during Game 5, the human-highlight-film second baseman standing right next to the All-Star first baseman as he caught a Kike Hernandez pop-up for the second out of the third inning.

It didn’t matter that this was a 1-0 game and MVP-ballot players Justin Turner and Corey Seager were coming up. This is what the 2016 Cubs do. Rizzo caught the ball, quickly flipped it underhand and it bounced off Baez’s chest – in front of a sellout crowd of 54,449 and a national Fox Sports 1 audience.

“We always mess around,” Rizzo said at his locker inside a tight clubhouse jammed with media after an 8-4 win. “So I’m screaming: ‘Javy! Javy! I got it! I got it, Javy, I got it!’

“And usually he’ll yell at me: ‘Don’t miss it!’ Or I’ll yell at him: ‘Don’t miss it!’

“We do that a lot. If it’s a pop-up to him, I’ll go right behind him. It’s just little ways of slowing the game down and having fun, too.”

Rizzo is a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman for a team that led the majors in defensive efficiency this year. As a super-utility guy, Baez got credit for 11 defensive runs saved in 383 innings at second base, or one less than co-leaders Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler, who each did it in almost 1,300 innings.

“Sometimes when I call (Rizzo) off to get a fly ball, he starts talking to me,” Baez said. “I tell him: ‘Hey, you can do whatever you want. Just don’t move my head. You can touch me if you want. Just don’t move my head.’

“And I told him to be ready for it, because I was going to do the same thing. You just got to be focused on the fly ball. No matter what’s happening around you, you just got to catch it.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

This isn’t about Bartman. It’s about a group of young, confident players who are growing up together and absolutely expect to be in this position. It’s manager Joe Maddon designing “Embrace The Target” T-shirts and telling them to show up to the ballpark whenever they want and then blow off batting practice.

“For sure, we’re relaxed,” said Baez, who’s gone viral during these playoffs, the rest of the country witnessing his amazing instincts and flashy personality. “I’m relaxed when I play defense.”

The thing is, Rizzo and Baez could be playing next to each other for the next five years, the same way Kris Bryant and Addison Russell will be anchoring the left side of the infield.

This is how Rizzo introduced Russell to The Show when a natural shortstop tried to learn second base on the fly last year and track pop-ups in front of 40,000 people: “Hey, watch out for that skateboard behind you! Don’t trip!”

“Oh yeah, we yell at each other all the time,” Rizzo said. “It’s just one of those things where you got to stay loose.”

Morning Update: Cubs take 3-2 lead in NLCS; Hoyer injured in Bears loss to Packers


Morning Update: Cubs take 3-2 lead in NLCS; Hoyer injured in Bears loss to Packers

Preview: Blackhawks visit Blue Jackets tonight on CSN

Jon Lester, Addison Russell come up big to put Cubs one win from World Series

Bears' spiral downward gathers speed in loss to Packers

Bulls drop preseason finale to Dwight Howard, Hawks

Messing with Jon Lester gets Dodgers nowhere as Cubs move closer to World Series

Bears Grades: Quarterback woes take offense to new low in loss to Packers

Marian Hossa out, Trevor van Riemsdyk in vs. Columbus

Anthony Rizzo/Javier Baez antics show how this Cubs team doesn’t feel the same weight of history

Bears Talk Podcast: What's next for Bears at QB after Brian Hoyer suffers broken arm?

Five Big Ten teams land in preseason coaches poll, with four in top 15