Wells is locking up his spot in Cubs rotation

Wells is locking up his spot in Cubs rotation

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Posted: 8:23 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. The new Randy Wells did not give an acceptance speech. He was not dressed in a tuxedo, thanking all the people that helped him get here. But at this point you have to declare him a winner in this competition.

Its almost impossible to see Wells not being in the Cubs rotation come April. And that remained true even before he dominated the San Francisco Giants in Sundays 3-2 win.

In front of 13,465 fans a record for HoHoKam Park Wells gave up two hits to start the game and then retired the final 18 batters he faced. He gave up one run across six innings and didnt even reach his pitch limit.

Not bad for someone who recently joked about going to Triple-A Iowa, saying it could be worse, that he was glad to just have a job.

Its not up to me, Wells said. Until the decisions made, I cant really say anything. Ive been goofing around and making stupid comments. (But) its just because I dont know what to say. I think Ive done enough.

Publicly, the Cubs arent going to go so far as to anoint Wells as their fourth starter just yet. The front office and the coaching staff will meet this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, to make some decisions.

But the 28-year-old right-hander now has a 1.35 ERA through his first five games, a 20-inning stretch. Manager Mike Quade called it an unbelievable spring, and it comes at a time when the Cubs seem to be looking for an exit strategy with Carlos Silva.

As Quade said, I cant tell you anything other than I have been super-impressed with Mr. Wells.

Wells has rolled his eyes at all the sophomore jinx talk. Hes sick and tired of talking about last year, when he let outside influences affect him, and people unfairly started to question his work habits and how much he enjoys the nightlife.

Unfortunate things were said, and stuff I couldnt control (got) to me, Wells said. Im really working hard on not giving a (expletive) what people think.

That goes for the way Wells has pitched he didnt let Sundays start mushroom into a big first inning and the way he has carried himself, with a quiet confidence.

Hes matured quite a bit, catcher Geovany Soto said. His pitching and his mechanics hes taking this stuff a little bit more seriously and it shows. Whenever he pitches, hes got a quick tempo. You can see in his eyes that he knows what he needs to do.

The Cubs would love to see the Wells from last April (3-0, 3.45), July (2-2, 1.83) and September (2-2, 3.15) who looked like a No. 3 starter.

Wells cant forget what he did last May (0-3, 5.40), June (0-3, 6.14) and August (1-4, 5.91). But he thinks hes better for the experience and takes great pride in being able to make 32 starts and contribute almost 200 innings.

Sometimes you start talking about (Wells) like hes a 10-year guy, Quade said. Not only am I excited to see what hes doing now, but there are still plenty of possibilities for this guy down the road because, to me, hes still very young after converting from catcher.

His ceiling could be a lot higher than any of us might think.

Wells looks at it exactly the same way. For him, this is all a confidence game.

You just got to be confident in your ability, Wells said. As long as you believe what youve done is right and youve done the work and prepared yourself to go out there and pitch, (thats all that matters).

When people get defensive or when people take offense to whats said or worry about whats said, its probably because theyre guilty. For me, I know that I took care of what I (needed to).

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

Anthony Rizzo fires back at Miguel Montero: 'That labels you as a selfish player'

Anthony Rizzo fires back at Miguel Montero: 'That labels you as a selfish player'

Anthony Rizzo pulled no punches in firing back at Miguel Montero after Tuesday night's rant.

Montero didn't even wait to get changed after the Washington Nationals stole seven bases, immediately throwing pitcher Jake Arrieta under the bus for not holding players on.

Rizzo — the face of the franchise and one of the leaders in the clubhouse — hopped on David Kaplan's radio show on ESPN 1000 Wednesday morning and aboslutely ripped Montero:

Here are Rizzo's complete comments:

"He's obviously frustrated. Whenever anyone steals seven bases, Miggy gets frustrated. It's his second time barking in the media and not just going to his teammates. It's something as a veteran like he is, you'd think he'd make smarter decisions about it."

Rizzo said he was not aware of the Montero rant in the clubhouse Tuesday night and only heard about it afterwards.

"I had no idea aobut it until I got back to the hotel and saw all this stuff. I got a couple text messages from a couple of my friends just kinda asking, 'What the hell is this guy doing?' Listen, we win as a team, we lose as a team. If you start pointing fingers, I think that just labels you as a selfish player. I disagree. We have another catcher that throws out everyone who steals and he has Jon Lester who doesn't pick over. It's no secret. I think going to the media with things like that, I don't think it's very professional."

So how does Rizzo handle it from here?

"Something like this, it's out in the public now. Things that get handled with coffee or in the clubhouse are things that people never know about. Sometimes, they get out. But this was obviously all over 'Sportscenter' last night and whatnot and we're talking about it today. We win as 25, we lose as 25. To call your teammates out via the press, I mean, what's the point?"

Rizzo is dead on in referencing Willson Contreras, who is throwing out 34 percent of runners attempting to steal against him, even serving as Lester's personal catcher. Contreras may have one of the best arms in the game, but he is catching the exact same pitching staff Montero is and has found a way to nab 16 would-be basestealers out of 47 attempts.

Meanwhile, Cubs numbers list Montero as 0-for-31 in throwing out basestealers.

The league average caught-stealing rate is 28 percent.

Preview: Cubs continue series with Nationals tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs continue series with Nationals tonight on CSN

The Cubs continue their series with the Washington Nationals on Wednesday night in the nation's capital, and you can catch all the action on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com and via the NBC Sports app.

Coverage from the District of Columbia with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies begins at 6 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the game for reaction and analysis on Cubs Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: John Lackey (5-8, 4.74 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (8-2, 3.57 ERA)

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