Ignoring distractions, Wells focused on rotation

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Ignoring distractions, Wells focused on rotation

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011Posted: 9:20 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Randy Wells was never the hot prospect and he does not have a big contract. He can be his own worst critic. He would be perfectly content with not being noticed until his next start.

Wells is young, single and speaks his mind. He grew up in downstate Belleville, wears trucker hats and listens to country music. He got prescription glasses last year that kind of made him look like Ricky Wild Thing Vaughn from Major League.

Wells never wore them in a game and didnt find it nearly as amusing as the beat writers. He wants the focus to be on his game, which is why he considered shutting down his Twitter account. Instead he blocks his updates to a mass audience.

I just dont want it to be a distraction, Wells said. I dont want it to be like, Oh, I hear Wells Tweeted (this or that). For me to enjoy it personally is one thing and to have reporters ask me about it (is another). Its kind of like the glasses thing and the band thing and the songwriting thing last year. Its just like: How about you ask me about baseball?

Wells uses it to promote his favorite bands and read Chad Ochocinco. One list compiled by MLB.com has more than 100 major-league players with verified accounts.

Ryan Dempster uses it to promote his charitable foundation. Casey Coleman recently created one out of curiosity, but has backed off because he felt like too many people were trying to bait him into making a mistake.

Blue Jays manager John Farrell told Toronto reporters that ideally his players wouldnt use Twitter, though he wouldnt go so far as to ban it outright.

My own opinion is that for a player to get involved in that, they set themselves up for another distraction, Farrell was quoted as saying in the National Post. I cant mandate anything to them, but (would) probably advise them to just let it be.

Were not going to say they cant do it. But I think theyve got to be careful. If theyre going to engage in it, then they really need to be able to follow through on some of the things that might be put out there.

Farrells comments rippled through cyberspace this week. Thats just the way it works. Twitter unfairly made Jay Cutler and the Bears look bad, and it caused enough tension between Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox.

The Cubs will address this as part of their annual media-relations workshop with players. But theres no prohibition, just a reminder that you are representing the organization.

The Cubs have an official Twitter account with more than 11,000 followers. Several employees in the front office use the service to monitor the news.

In his first speech to the entire team last week, manager Mike Quade felt compelled to tell his players to look reporters in the eye and take the responsibility seriously because the medias a monster.

Wells feels like the media zoomed in on some of his struggles in the first inning and sometimes lost sight of his overall 2010 season.

Either way, the 28-year-old is trying to hang on to his spot in the rotation. Hell have to fend off 2008 first-round pick Andrew Cashner. And the Cubs are on the hook for 6 million of Carlos Silvas 11.5 million salary.

I like when you got to earn your keep, Wells said. Ive never been the kind of guy in my whole career thats had a spot to lose. Nobody goes into camp being like: Im going to be a starter at Triple-A.

Wells went 8-14 last season, but also made 32 starts and posted a respectable 4.26 ERA. It should not be discounted that he finished at 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA the year before, when he was the rookie success story.

The ending is unwritten. In a world of Twitter and Facebook, you can change the narrative very quickly.

When I say I lost a little focus last year, its nothing from a personal standpoint, Wells said. I meant that when things started tumbling, I didnt know how to step back and look inside myself and dig deeper.

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

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Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa

MESA, Ariz. – After an impressive camp where he looked like the next homegrown Cubs hitter to roll off the assembly line, Ian Happ will go to Triple-A Iowa and get ready to make his big-league debut, or perhaps build his value for a trade-deadline deal.

Along with Happ, the Cubs assigned outfielder John Andreoli and catcher Taylor Davis to minor-league camp on Monday while optioning pitchers Eddie Butler and Rob Zastryzny to Iowa, cutting their roster to 31 as the Opening Night picture comes into focus.

Happ – the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft out of the University of Cincinnati – batted .417 with five homers, four doubles and 17 RBI in 24 Cactus League games.

"Offensively, what was there not to like?" general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I feel like he hit the ball hard every at-bat for six weeks. It's always fun to see a young guy like that come in and open a lot of eyes."

Happ, 22, is a switch-hitter who can play second base and the outfield, skills that could help him escape from Des Moines once the need arises on the major-league level.

[MORE CUBS: How Cubs came to fully believe in the legend of Kyle Schwarber]

Though there are questions about Happ's defense, Theo Epstein's front office and Joe Maddon's coaching staff clearly value versatility and trust young talent, moving Addison Russell to shortstop in 2015 and elevating rookie catcher Willson Contreras last season.

Stay tuned to see when/if the Cubs will have a spot at Wrigley Field, but Happ looks like he will be on a fast track.

"Whenever you're in Triple-A, you're always a call away," Hoyer said. "Sometimes it happens quicker than you think. We never expected Addie would be up in April of that year, and he was. I feel like with Willson last year, if you had asked me in spring training – would he be up in June? – I probably would have thought it would be more like a September call-up or something like that.

"You never know. Things happen. When you have good players in the minor leagues, sometimes it speeds up on you a little bit."