PHILADELPHIA — As the Cubs get ready for more trade-deadline madness, they’re still taking it slow with Arodys Vizcaino.
Taking a calculated risk, the Cubs grabbed Vizcaino from the Atlanta Braves in the deal for Paul Maholm, who became a sign-and-flip blueprint in 2012. Vizcaino had just begun his recovery from Tommy John surgery, a long road that would require a follow-up procedure on his right elbow last year.
Vizcaino still has the electric stuff that was supposed to make him the next big thing in Atlanta. After dominating overmatched hitters at advanced Class-A Daytona — allowing one run in nine appearances — he’s put up a 2.84 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 12.2 innings at Double-A Tennessee.
“We’re still monitoring how we use him,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The back-to-backs (will) come with pitch-count limits and things of that nature. He’s coming along. His health seems to be really good.”
The Cubs appear to have avoided a major setback with Hector Rondon, another Tommy John case who hasn’t pitched since June 6 while dealing with a sore right elbow. Renteria said Rondon would be available on Sunday but would try to avoid using the closer, and Neil Ramirez finished a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The emergence of Rondon, Ramirez, Justin Grimm and Brian Schlitter has solidified the bullpen. It’s not like there’s a glaring need for Vizcaino, who has 100-mph velocity and big-league experience.
“It’s just the right thing to do, regardless of what our bullpen situation is,” Renteria said. “When you’re monitoring guys and making sure that they’re coming through with health, the prudent thing to do is make sure that they’re good. I don’t think you want to force anything, regardless of how your bullpen is (doing). Their health is primary.”
Throwing on back-to-back days will be a big test for Vizcaino, who could make it to Wrigley Field by the end of the season. But the Cubs are going to protect a 23-year-old asset.
“All those things are just the progression,” Renteria said. “Once we get to that point, then we’ll see where we’re at. Fortunately for us, we have our guys that are here and doing well. But his health is paramount.”