MESA, Ariz. – When healthy, Arodys Vizcaino’s stuff is as good as anyone else’s in Cubs camp. General manager Jed Hoyer said as much when pitchers and catchers reported to Arizona.
But the Cubs are going to take it slow with Vizcaino, who has missed the last two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old right-hander is showing why Baseball America once ranked him as the second-best prospect in the Atlanta Braves system – and No. 40 in the entire game.
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“His story is a great story,” manager Rick Renteria said Sunday at Cubs Park. “He’s worked very hard to get back to where he is right now. It’s still a progression. There are still some things that he’s gonna have to work through and we’re gonna be extremely patient with how we move forward with him. We have no rush.”
Vizcaino could be a weapon at the back end of the bullpen this season. But the Cubs have been very cautious, knowing they need to manage his innings and hoping the centerpiece of the 2012 Paul Maholm trade might someday be able to join the rotation.
“His stuff is so good,” catcher Welington Castillo said. “His ball is just jumping out of his hand so easily (and) his breaking ball is perfect. He’s a power pitcher and he can command all his pitches.
“We expect a lot from him. He’s going to get better and better. (He’s) one of those arms we need out of the bullpen. He can touch 100. Easy. You see a guy that comes back from Tommy John surgery and throws 97, 98 (mph)? Come on.”
Vizcaino – who’s had a big smile on his face this spring – has said he plans to be there Opening Day. He threw two scoreless innings last week, but went four days between appearances, and will need to go back-to-back in the Cactus League.
“That’s part (of what) he would have to be able to do,” Renteria said. “Coming off an injury, especially if you’re going to use him in relief, you want him to be able to get up, get hot, sit him down. There are still a lot of scenarios in which he has to be able to perform. That’s why we just have to be patient.”