Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cubs make surprising roster moves and lose 12-11 to the Padres

It was a busy day today as the Cubs reduced their spring roster from 40 to 31 players by optioning Randy Wells, Scott Maine, Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, and Welington Castillo to Triple-A Iowa, and assigning Blake Lalli, Blake Parker, Matt Tolbert, and Edgar Gonzalez to Minor League camp.  Joe Mather and Blake DeWitt were given the good news that they both made the 25-man roster.

Dale Sveum announced the Cubs' starting rotation as: Ryan Dempster (#1 spot), Matt Garza (#2 spot),  Jeff Samardzija (#3), Chris Volstad (#4), and Paul Maholm (#5).  Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, and James Russell are set for the Cubs' bullpen.  The rest of the bullpen is still to be finalized.

Most people were shocked to learn that Cubs' veteran starting pitcher Wells was optioned to Triple-A Iowa.  Wells did not get a spot on the roster even though he did not give up a run in 7 1/3 innings over three Cactus League appearances.  Some say that Wells didn't get enough of a chance to compete for a starting rotation spot.  Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer said, "Randy had a real good spring and we made that clear to him.  It wasn't for his lack of effort."

Cubs veteran starting pitcher Randy Wells is beginning the season at Triple-A Iowa in an effort to have starting pitching depth (Tribune photo)
All spring, the word has been if Wells didn't get a starting rotation spot, he would be used in the bullpen.  However, it sounds like Cubs President Theo Epstein, Hoyer, and Sveum now have a different plan for Wells.  They want him to stay stretched out by being the #1 starter in Iowa so that if one of the 5 starters in Chicago is injured or needs to be replaced (similar to what happened to Wells in 2011 after he was on the DL after his first start), Wells will be ready and called up to start.  Sveum said Wells did well this spring, but Samardzija and Volstad "threw the heck out of the ball as well."

"Usually when this happens, you've had a rough spring or haven't been pitching well," Wells said.  "I feel I've thrown the ball well in a variety of different roles.  It was obviously a shock.  Things didn't work out.  I've got to go down and get stretched back out and try to get built up and make some starts and hopefully be ready when they need me.  It makes you stronger, I guess.  You go through these things (and) as big as that feeling in your stomach is – the anger or disappointment or whatever it is – you got to get past this.  You got to remember it’s your job.  They’re our bosses and they make the decisions and you just got to keep working.”

Catcher Jason Jaramillo was released by the Cubs today and has already signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.

In the Cubs' Cactus League game today against the Padres, Volstad blew a four-run lead and gave up six runs in 42/3 innings.  Kerry Wood made his first appearance since March 18th and threw five pitches and struck out the only batter he faced.  The Cubs lost the practice game 12-11.

The Cubs will play the Los Angeles Dodgers at 3pm CST at HoHoKam Park tomorrow, where Ryan Dempster will be the starting pitcher. 

Back in Chicago, Wrigley Field is getting dressed up for Opening Day, which is in one week!

Banners are up at Wrigley Field to prepare for Opening Day on April 5, 2012 (photo from Wayne Buckner)

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