Cubs: Neil Ramirez, Jacob Turner just trying to finish strong

Cubs: Neil Ramirez, Jacob Turner just trying to finish strong
August 10, 2014, 1:15 pm
Tony Andracki

The Cubs are adding a pair of arms to a bullpen that has been pretty solid all year despite its heavy workload.

The Cubs activated Neil Ramirez off the disabled list Sunday and Jacob Turner is joining the team after being acquired in a weekend trade with the Miami Marlins. Chris Rusin has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa and Oak Park, Ill., native Brian Schlitter was placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation.

Ramirez, acquired in the Matt Garza deal with the Texas Rangers last summer, emerged as a bright spot since making his MLB debut in late April. The 25-year-old had a sparkling 0.96 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 33 games for the Cubs, striking out 36 in 28 innings and collecting three saves.

But Ramirez ran into some arm soreness and with a shaky injury history in the minor leagues and his bright future, the Cubs played it safe and sent him back to the minors before backtracking and placing him on the disabled list.

Ramirez worked with Cubs head athletic trainer P.J. Mainville and strength coach Tim Buss before heading down to Arizona to rehab, where he got into a couple games in the rookie league, tossing 1.1 innings.

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"The team was just kinda looking out for me right there," Ramirez said. "I'm happy with that. I just wanna finish the year strong. I think all the stuff I did with P.J. and Buss, we're gonna continue doing that for the rest of the year and I should be good.

"I'm kinda happy that we caught it early and were able to deal with it and now I can come back and finish strong."

Ramirez said he never shut down completely because he knew it would be hard to ramp it back up and be in game shape for the final six weeks. The Cubs intend to stick Ramirez back in the same role he was in before, working the seventh, eighth or ninth innings in high-leverage situations.

Turner was placed on waivers by the Marlins last week after running out of options and struggling in the majors (5.97 ERA). 

The 23-year-old carries the pedigree of a top prospect (ranked as high as No. 21 by Baseball America) and a first-round pick (selected ninth overall by the Detroit Tigers in 2009), but has never quite put it all together in the big leagues with a career 4.77 ERA.

"For whatever reason, there were times where it seemed like it worked out and there were other times where they felt like they had to go in a different direction," Turner said, summing up his professional career to date. "I'm just excited to be here. I think it will be a good opportunity to get a fresh start and just regroup a little bit."

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The Cubs — and Turner — are hoping a change of scenery will help out the tall right-hander. The Cubs believe in their pitching infrastructure, led by pitching coach Chris Bosio, and hope they can harness Turner's potential in much the same way Jake Arrieta has turned into a frontline starter after years of inconsistency in Baltimore.

"I don't think it's so much trying to get back to anything that I have or haven't done in the past," Turner said. "There's been times this year where I pitched really well. It's just a matter of being more consistent for me.

"I just want to build on the success that I did have when I was in Miami and really show them what I could do and how I can be a helpful piece to this team."

Even though he's been mostly utilized as a starter in the past, the Cubs will use Turner out of the bullpen, at least initially.

Both Turner and Ramirez — who also came up as a starter - have expressed an interest to start in the future and could become intriguing options for the Cubs down the road as Theo Epstein's front office searches for impact pitching.

But for now, both guys are just trying to get back on track and close the year out strong.