ST. LOUIS – Jose Veras is back.
The ex-closer wheeled his suitcase into Busch Stadium’s visiting clubhouse on Wednesday afternoon, before heavy rains washed out the Cubs-Cardinals game. Cubs fans will go crazy on Twitter the next time Veras warms up in the bullpen, but he’s hitting the reset button, saying his oblique injury has healed and ignoring the 15.88 ERA next to his name.
“It’s six weeks, brother,” Veras said. “There’s nothing to worry about. It’s a new day. The past is past. You got to start over. That’s why I’m here. The best part is I’m healthy.”
It only took two weeks into the season before Veras lost his job as closer. Manager Rick Renteria initially gave Veras the vote of confidence after his second blown save on April 11 in St. Louis. The next morning, Renteria changed his mind, forcing Veras into mop-up duty.
Two weeks after that, the Cubs stashed Veras on the disabled list, giving him a chance to clear his head, work on mechanics and get stronger physically. Veras threw 4.2 scoreless innings and allowed one hit during his rehab assignment with Double-A Tennessee.
“As soon as I’m healthy, bro, I can do my thing,” Veras said. “I trust that. I know who I am. I’ve been through a lot of things, so I know who I am. I know what I can do.”
Veras is a stand-up guy who’s respected by his teammates. He saved 19 games for the Astros last year and pitched in the playoffs with the Tigers. To find a spot for the 33-year-old right-hander, the Cubs placed lefty Zac Rosscup on the disabled list with shoulder soreness.
The Cubs might have found a closer in Hector Rondon, and they will ease Veras back into lower-leverage situations.
“I can be in any spot,” Veras said. “I’m fighting to get my three outs. That’s every day I step on the mound – I want to get my three outs. No matter how, just get three outs. Find a way.”