Cubs managing a crisis: Cashner, Wells to DL

438093.jpg

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
CSNChicago.com

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

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

Cubs not worrying about a thing after split with Marlins: 'We're right there'

MIAMI – Jon Jay walked into a quiet clubhouse late Sunday morning, turned right and headed directly toward the sound system in one corner of the room, plugging his phone into the sound system and playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.”

The Cubs outfielder whistled as he changed into his work clothes at Marlins Park, singing along to the lyrics with Anthony Rizzo a few lockers over: “Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right.” 

That’s what the Cubs keep telling themselves, because most of them have World Series rings and the National League Central is such a bad division.

“The biggest thing is to keep the floaties on until we get this thing right,” manager Joe Maddon said before a 4-2 loss left the Cubs treading water again at 38-37. “We’re solvent. We’re right there. We’re right next to first place.”

The Cubs will leave this tropical environment and jump into the deep end on Monday night for the start of a four-game showdown against the Washington Nationals in the nation’s capital.

Miami sunk the Cubs in the first inning when Addison Russell made a costly error on the routine groundball Miami leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki chopped to shortstop, a mistake that helped create three unearned runs. Martin Prado drilled Mike Montgomery’s first-pitch fastball off the left-center field wall for a two-out double and a 3-0 lead. Montgomery (1-4, 2.03 ERA) lasted six innings and retired the last 10 batters he faced.

“Keep The Floaties On” sounds like an idea for Maddon’s next T-shirt. The 2017 Cubs haven’t been more than four games over .500 or two games under .500 at any point this season. The 2016 Cubs didn’t lose their 37th game until July 19 and spent 180 days in first place.

“That’s what was so special about it,” Rizzo said. “We boat-raced from Game 1 to Game 7 with a couple bumps in the road, but this is baseball. It’s not going to be all smooth-sailing every day. You got to work through things.”

Another issue for the Cubs and Addison Russell

Another issue for the Cubs and Addison Russell

MIAMI – Injuries keep weighing the Cubs down as the defending World Series champs keep trying to finally take off this season.

All-Star shortstop Addison Russell exited Sunday’s game at Marlins Park with a sore right shoulder that has been bothering him off and on since at least since spring training.

Russell made a costly error on the groundball Miami leadoff guy Ichiro Suzuki chopped in the first inning, a mistake that helped create three unearned runs in a 4-2 loss.

By the fourth inning, the Cubs rearranged their defense, with Javier Baez moving from second base to shortstop while Russell rested for a team that already has a World Series MVP (Ben Zobrist), Gold Glove outfielder (Jason Heyward) and Cy Young Award finalist (Kyle Hendricks) on the disabled list.

The lingering shoulder issue sidelined Russell in the middle of May – without a detour to the disabled list – and he eventually fell into a timeshare with Baez as he tried to get out of an offensive spiral while dealing with off-the-field issues. 

Through her divorce attorney last week, Russell’s wife disclosed that she will not meet with Major League Baseball officials looking into an abuse allegation made by a third party on social media, a development that would significantly hinder the investigation.

Russell – who denied the accusation – wants to keep the focus on the field. He has actually seen an offensive turnaround since details from his private life became public, hitting .357 with four homers and 10 RBI in his previous 12 games.