Wellemeyer, Maine among latest Cubs cuts

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Wellemeyer, Maine among latest Cubs cuts

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

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

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.

Etc.

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.

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester explains absence from Cubs' White House trip: 'Absolutely nothing political'

Jon Lester didn't make any sort of statement by missing Monday's White House trip with his Cubs teammates. But at a polarizing moment in a divided country, a high-profile player on a World Series team felt the need to respond on social media and explain his absence from the championship ceremony. 

President Barack Obama name-checked Lester during his East Room speech – both for his spectacular pitching performance and beat-cancer charitable initiatives – as the Cubs continued their victory tour off the franchise's first World Series title since Theodore Roosevelt lived in the White House.

Lester stood behind Obama when the 2013 Boston Red Sox were honored on the South Lawn. During that 2014 ceremony, Lester stood next to John Lackey, another Cub who missed this Washington trip. Lester also toured George W. Bush's White House with Boston's 2007 championship team.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day – and with the specter of Donald Trump's inauguration looming – Obama used his administration's final official White House event to draw a direct line between him and Jackie Robinson and highlight the connective power of sports.

"The best part was the president talking about how sports brings people together," All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, "how no matter what's going on in this country and the world, three or four hours of any one particular game can just rally so many people together." 

This team couldn't have created so much joy for generations of fans without Lester, who signed a $155 million contract with the last-place Cubs after the 2014 season, a transformational moment during the long rebuild that led to the White House trip that Obama never thought would happen.

"It was a thrill and an honor for all of us," team president Theo Epstein said. "It means so much more with his roots in Chicago and his final days in office. It couldn't have worked out any better. It's something we'll all remember for our whole lives."

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

The time Addison Russell froze up after getting a text from Eddie George

Plenty of Cubs fans surely were star-struck to meet Addison Russell at Cubs Convention last weekend. But the 22-year-old All-Star shortstop has a shortlist of people he would be amazed to meet, too. 

Russell reveres President Barack Obama, on Friday the outgoing Commander-in-Chief's work in the community when talking about getting to visit the White House. So on Monday, Russell got to check off meeting one of the people on his list. "There's probably about three people that I would be star-struck by, and (Obama's) one of them," Russell said. 

One of those three spots is "open," Russell said. The other member of that list is former Ohio State and Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George. 

Russell wears his No. 27 because of George, who wore that number during his career in which he made four Pro Bowls and rushed for over 10,000 yards and 78 touchdowns. Prior to the 2016 season, George sent Russell and autographed Titans helmet inscribed with good luck message.

After the season, Russell said George texted him seeing if the newly-crowned champion had time to chill. Few things rattled Russell last year — he became the youngest player to hit a grand slam in the World Series when he blasted one in Game 6 against the Cleveland Indians last November — but getting a text from George did. "I couldn't text back," Russell said. "It was nuts. I waited four days because I was thinking of what back to say."

Even the most famous athletes still get star-struck. Russell's been lucky enough in the last few months to meet and hear from two of the people who bring out that sense of awe in him. "Just to come in contact with people like that, it just makes me smile," Russell said. "It definitely gets me in the mood of getting better, and that's the goal this year, is getting better."