Wells looking for ways to stick with Cubs

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Wells looking for ways to stick with Cubs

PHILADELPHIA Randy Wells has no idea whats going to happen next. A return trip to Des Moines? A spot in the bullpen? The Cubs arent saying.

Well make those decisions when they all come up, manager Dale Sveum said Friday. Well see what happens, but we havent got to that step yet.

Wells will get the ball on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park for a showcase start against the Philadelphia Phillies. Thats about the only guarantee, with Ryan Dempster (strained right quad) back running and throwing and expected to be taken off the disabled list next week.

That will again leave the Cubs with six starters for five spots.

Wells was blindsided in late March, when he found out he was being optioned to Triple-A Iowa. But he didn't lash out and handled the news as well as he could have, sitting in front of his locker, calmly and patiently answering all the questions.

Obviously, you got thoughts in your head about where youre at and what youve done, Wells said. Im not going to sit here and defend my years in the big leagues. But I think if you look internally at the numbers, theyre not quite as bad as everybody made it out to seem. But thats not for me to make the judgments.

All I can do is pitch and show up every day and work hard and if my names here, then thats it. I know thats such a clich. But its really how I feel.

If I start getting into trying like I said in spring training to play GM or whatever, thats just going to take away from me as a baseball player. So either way, whatever happens, Im cool with it. But, obviously, you want to be in the big leagues.

Wells entered this season with a 27-30 career record and a 4.01 ERA in the majors. He didnt blast the organization, which essentially made him a 2.705 million insurance policy for the rotation.

When the Washington Nationals demoted John Lannan just before Opening Day, the left-hander with a 5 million salary requested a trade and e-mailed the beat writers to let them know.

Its not my style to ruffle any feathers or cause a scene, Wells said. They thought thats the best for the team and thats the kind of player I am. Ill do whatever to help the team.

If Wells tries to lean on clichs, its probably because he was so hard on himself after bad starts, ripping his own performance in the interview room.

That might have warped perception, along with people unfairly questioning his work habits and blowing his nightlife activities out of proportion.

Theres a lot of things (where) people get the wrong impression of me, Wells said. All you can do is pitch good and everybody forgets about it.

The Cubs saw higher potential upside in Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad, and Paul Maholm got the free-agent contract and gives the rotation a left-handed look. Right now, the bullpen doesnt have much depth or a real long man.

Hopefully, I can have a good start (Saturday) and maybe change some plans, Wells said. I definitely want to stay in any capacity. If it is a bullpen role, then youre just going to have to take that as a new challenge and Ive done it (before in the minors).

Its nothing that Im not used to. I can do it and Id certainly be willing to do it. Who knows, maybe at this point in your career, if thats something Im good at, maybe itll give me new life.

Im not thinking about that. Im thinking about starting. I definitely want to stay a starter. But you also want to do whatever you can do to help the team win.

Wells went five innings the last time out, giving up two runs on six hits and five walks and getting a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Hell have to be better than that to force the issue.

Back in 2002, the Cubs drafted Wells in the 38th round as a catcher, and its been a long trip. Hes not looking for an easy out or a change of scenery.

Ive been here my whole career, Wells said. I grew up in this organization, from 19 years old to almost 30. That means a lot to me to stay here and definitely be a part of when we turn this thing around and win.

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

LOS ANGELES – A man stepped to the microphone during a Q&A session at Cubs Convention and called Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman “the two boy geniuses.” The fan told Epstein how his friends used to call the Dodgers baseball boss “your Mini-Me,” asking about their personal rivalry and if beating L.A. in the playoffs had any extra meaning.

“We have a friendly rivalry,” Epstein told a packed hotel ballroom in downtown Chicago in January. “First off, didn’t he interview for an internship with us and we turned him down way back in the day?

“And then like nine months later, he was GM of the Rays. When he was with Tampa and I was with Boston, we never spoke, because we were in the same division. It was kind of a heated rivalry. We literally never called each other on trades or anything like that.”

But where it’s so difficult for the small-market Rays to keep up with the ultra-rich Red Sox – and replace Friedman’s vision and Joe Maddon’s star power and survive a string of wasted first-round draft picks and find a long-term stadium solution – the Cubs and Dodgers are positioned to be superpowers for years to come.

That’s what makes this Memorial Day weekend showdown at Dodger Stadium so compelling beyond the National League Championship Series rematch. It’s not just upcoming free agent Jake Arrieta returning to the site of his onesie no-hitter on Friday night, a reigning MVP (Kris Bryant) and Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager), two of the best closers on the planet (Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen) and a classic Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers less than a month after Epstein finalized a five-year contract worth in the neighborhood of $50 million, likely surpassing Friedman as the game’s highest-paid personnel executive.

“Jed developed a pretty good relationship with him, because I didn’t like talking to him,” Epstein said, referencing GM Jed Hoyer, another Boston transplant on the Cubs Convention panel that day. “But then when I came out here with the Cubs, a different league and everything, I developed a much better relationship with Andrew and we became friends, so now it’s much more of a friendly rivalry.

“I will say that losing to the Dodgers would have been a bitter pill to swallow on a number of fronts, including that one. But they’re developing a powerhouse out there.

“We see them as a team we have to go through each year to get where we want to be.”

[MORE CUBS: Summing up the Cubs' impressive, potentially season-altering homestand]

Backed by Guggenheim Partners’ financial muscle and flush with new TV money, the Dodgers have won four straight division titles and 90-plus games each season while ramping up a farm system that’s now ranked fourth, fifth or sixth by Baseball America, ESPN and MLB.com.

“Everyone’s got their own style and their own approach,” Epstein said. “Ours was more kind of bottom-up (where) they needed to keep it rolling at a high level in the big leagues while retooling their system and nurturing the talent that was already there.

“We had to go out and transact and bring some stuff in. We were at different points of the success cycle. They’ve done a really nice job of winning while kind of establishing something new at the same time.”

The blue-blooded franchise that produced 17 Rookie of the Year winners last month rolled out Cody Bellinger, a 21-year-old, left-handed first baseman with nine homers in his first 28 games in The Show. Julio Urias – who might be the next Fernando Valenzuela – is supposed to be conserving some innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City for another October where the Cubs could be standing in the way of the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.

“They’ve been producing great young talent for a long period of time,” Epstein said. “If you go back and look at some of the young studs they have in the big leagues that (former scouting director) Logan White and (the previous regime) brought in, some of the guys are still coming.

“They’re stocked and the Dodger tradition runs really deep. With Andrew and his front office, we know they’re going to be dynamic. They’re going to have more resources than anyone. And they’re a big threat to the whole league for a long period of time.”

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Tom Thibodeau was without Derrick Rose for the first time in his head-coaching career last season, coaching the Timberwolves while Rose suited up for the New York Knicks.

But a reunion may be on the horizon. Rose is an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves, though they don't have a real need at point guard, are showing interest in the Chicago native. We'll have to wait until July 1, when free agency begins, to see what happens.

See what special guest Nick Friedell, Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, had to say about the topic on SportsTalk Live in the video above.