Wellemeyer, Maine among latest Cubs cuts


Wellemeyer, Maine among latest Cubs cuts

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 11:04 a.m. Updated: 7:48 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs delayed the major decisions on their bullpen and rotation for another day, but their roster continues to come into focus.

Relievers Scott Maine and Justin Berg were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while pitchers Todd Wellemeyer and Angel Guzman were assigned to minor-league camp. Another round of cuts on Wednesday sliced the overall number to 36 players.

By subtracting Maine a 26-year-old they think has a very bright future the Cubs will likely go with three other left-handers in their bullpen: Sean Marshall, John Grabow and James Russell.

READ: Marlon Byrd refuses to slow down

Manager Mike Quade wouldnt go quite that far just yet, only calling it a valid possibility thats prominent in my mind.

Maine made his major-league debut late last season and posted a 2.08 ERA in 13 relief appearances. But the left-hander struggled with the feel for his slider in Arizona and gave up five runs in six innings.

Im not going to do down there and bash them, Maine said. They told me that if I keep performing (like I did) last year and get better, then they dont see a reason why Im not up there again.

Wellemeyer has been dealing with a hip injury and hasnt pitched in a Cactus League game since March 12. It has been a string of bad luck for the 32-year-old non-roster invitee.

READ: Cubs will take another look at Cashner vs. Silva

Wellemeyers essentially pitched six innings since straining his quadriceps last June. That contributed to his release from the San Francisco Giants and missing out on the World Series experience. He plans to discuss his future with his agent, Barry Meister.

Very disappointing, Wellemeyer said. I didnt really get a single inning live during a game where I felt like there wasnt a stabbing pain on my hip. I wish I could have gone out there and been healthy, but it is what it is.

Guzman is the guy everyone in camp is rooting for. A series of injuries have derailed his once promising career, but he remains relentlessly upbeat and always has a smile on his face. Thats why the front office wouldnt hesitate to hire him as soon as hes done playing.

Exactly one year ago (March 23), Dr. James Andrews performed arthroscopic surgery on Guzmans right shoulder. As a non-roster player, he already packed up and moved out of the major-league clubhouse over the weekend. Hes scheduled to throw in a minor-league game next week, which would be another remarkable step in his journey.


Ernie Banks will be honored by Major League Baseball in May alongside actor Morgan Freeman and musician Carlos Santana as part of the Civil Rights Game in Atlanta. Carlos Zambrano threw 82 pitches across four innings on Wednesday in a minor-league game. Catcher Max Ramirez (wrist) was scheduled for an MRI. Up next: vs. White Sox at HoHoKam Park, Matt Garza vs. Phil Humber, 4:05 p.m., CSN.

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

How Kyle Schwarber is such a ‘baseball rat’ that Cubs used him in their draft war room

How Kyle Schwarber is such a ‘baseball rat’ that Cubs used him in their draft war room

Matt Dorey and Lukas McKnight had just scouted a California Baptist University pitching prospect as they rode toward the Los Angeles Airport Marriott and pulled into the parking lot.

Dorey watched the Cubs game on his phone as the valet guys approached the car: “Holy s---!” Kyle Schwarber crashed into Dexter Fowler as the two outfielders converged in the left-center field gap, both of them tumbling to the ground as Arizona Diamondbacks leadoff guy Jean Segura sprinted for an inside-the-park home run at Chase Field. 

Dorey, the team’s amateur scouting director, and McKnight, the assistant director, walked into the hotel’s sports bar with this sort of thought in mind: Make it a double. On the night of April 7, the Cubs really didn’t know what damage this might do to Schwarber’s career, or if a severe injury could shred the franchise’s World Series plans.

“The pit in my stomach at that moment,” Dorey remembered. “Everybody starts texting me: ‘Oh, this doesn’t look good.’” 

It looked like an awful high-speed collision that might derail the 2016 Cubs. It didn’t matter that Schwarber had only turned 23 a month earlier and only had one full season of professional baseball on his resume. 

The Cubs had witnessed his quick, compact left-handed swing at Indiana University and understood what his magnetic personality meant in building the Hoosier program, using the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft on Schwarber with the belief that those qualities would strengthen the Wrigley Field clubhouse. 

An MRI at a hospital in the Phoenix area revealed a torn ACL and LCL in Schwarber’s left knee, as well as a severely sprained ankle, what was supposed to be season-ending trauma. Except Schwarber has already notched three hits and two walks in the World Series, including a double off the Progressive Field wall against Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in Game 1. 

A stunning performance that left teammate Kris Bryant predicting “they’re going to make a movie about him” couldn’t get Schwarber medically cleared to play defense on Friday night as Wrigley Field stages its first World Series game since 1945. But in what’s now a best-of-five battle, the Cleveland Indians will have to worry about Schwarber walking up to the plate for what could be a season-defining pinch-hit at-bat.

“I’m a baseball rat,” Schwarber said. “I want to be involved in it as much as I can. A lot of (credit) goes to this team and this organization for allowing me to be around. They were a big rock in my rehab.

“I could have easily just gone to Arizona, gone through the motions in rehab. But these guys really made me kick it up a notch. I’m sitting here today mostly because of those guys.”

Beyond the grueling physical exercises, Schwarber studied video, helped prepare scouting reports, brainstormed with catchers and attended meetings with pitchers. In no uncertain terms, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein made Schwarber untouchable in trade talks, allowing the Indians to acquire All-Star reliever Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees.

Cubs officials also invited Schwarber to observe their draft process in June, allowing him to sit in as they gathered in an unfinished section of the new underground clubhouse in Wrigleyville.

“We got him a computer,” Dorey said. “He had access to all of our analytics. We had the video up. I asked him questions about catching. We asked questions about guys he played against. 

“A lot of the pitchers that we were considering – in the Big Ten especially – we’re like: ‘Kyle, what do you think?’ He’d be like: ‘This guy sucks, man.’

“He was just so invested in it. He was so into it. Even for the better part of four or five days – and during the actual draft – he sat in there and he (found) a couple guys that he really liked. He was like: ‘Man, I’m just trying to get my guy.’ 

“There was a hitter (he really liked). I’m like: ‘Kyle, dude, we’re not taking many hitters.’”

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Even without Schwarber getting a hit during the regular season, the Cubs are so loaded on offense that they scored 808 runs. In the fourth round, the Cubs drafted Tyson Miller, the Cal Baptist right-hander Dorey and McKnight scouted the day Schwarber wrecked his knee. 

“It was just so fun,” Dorey said. “I was so appreciative of his willingness to try to see the organization from a different lens.

“Most guys – not that they don’t care about it – they just don’t take the time to understand what happens on a day-to-day basis to see how we bring new guys into the organization.

“It was great for our scouts to see – and great for all of us to hear a different perspective (with Kyle) talking about players that he’s seen. And he’s seen what it takes to play at this level.”

Out of that gruesome injury came another chapter in the legend of Schwarber, a baseball gym rat who’s supposed to lead the Cubs back into October for years to come.

“It was really tough to see,” Dorey said. “But I also look at it now like Kyle just went through the biggest obstacle or adversity in his career. He worked so hard to get back to this point. It’s just pretty inspiring to see that he’s even taking BP – let alone hitting 5-hole in Game 1 of the World Series.”

Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell among four Cubs finalists for Gold Glove Award

Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell among four Cubs finalists for Gold Glove Award

Four Cubs have been recognized for their defense in 2016 on Thursday.

Jake Arrieta, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell were all named finalists for the Gold Glove Award at their respective positions. Winners will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Arrieta was tied for second among National League pitchers with five Defensive Runs Saved. Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon led with eight.

Heyward, who's a three-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, had the most DRS for right fielders with 14 and also led Defensive Wins Above Replacement with 1.3.

Rizzo's 5.7 Ultimate Zone Rating ranked second among first basemen in the NL, according to fangraphs.com, and his .996 field percentage ranked fifth.

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

Russell was tied for most DRS among NL shortstops with 19 (the second-best had nine).

The two most notable Cubs left off the list were Javier Baez and Ben Zobrist due to their versatility throughout the regular season.