Chicago Cubs: Randy Wells
The Rangers said Tuesday that Wells' retirement was effectively immediately.
In 98 career games in the majors from 2008-12, all but one with the Cubs, Wells was 28-32 with a 4.08 ERA. He was 1-2 in 12 games last season for Chicago, but became a free agent after refusing a minor league assignment.
The 30-year-old Wells went to spring training with the Rangers as a non-roster invitee. The right-hander was 0-4 with a 6.08 ERA for Round Rock.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says Wells indicated he "just didn't have the same level of desire" to pitch any more.
Wells has been placed on the minor league disabled list with a right elbow strain. The right-hander had been pitching at Triple-A Iowa.
“I haven't talked to the doctor directly about it but it's something that's been bothering him and it kind of reached a critical point the other day,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said.
Wells was 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA in 12 outings (four starts). At Iowa, he was 3-3 with a 7.89 ERA over nine starts.
Wells was 1-2 with a 5.34 ERA with the Cubs and in his 12 appearances, four of them were starts. It was those last two starts, though, that forced the Cubs to make a move with the right-hander.
Taking Ryan Dempster’s turn the last two times through the rotation, Wells struggled to find the strike zone. He walked four batters in each of the starts, which didn’t bode well since manager Dale Sveum pleaded with him to throw strikes and take chances will balls in play.
Wells did have a minor-league option, but by designating him for assignment and taking on the risk of sending him through waivers it opened a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Cubs are expected to add outfielder Jorge Soler to the 40-man roster when he is officially signed at some point this weekend. The Cuba native has already agreed to a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs, which has to be signed before Monday.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, all international signings after Sunday can only be for a maximum of $2.9 million.
Although the Cubs have not made it official, the fact that they designated Randy Wells for assignment Wednesday instead of optioning him to Triple-A Iowa means they are opening up a spot on the 40-man roster.
The Cubs recalled Rafael Dolis to take Wells’ spot on the major league roster, but he was already on the 40-man.
Jorge Soler is expected to take that open 40-man roster spot, with his official signing set to come as soon as late Wednesday or at least by the weekend. Soler has already agreed in principle to a nine-year, $30 million contract, but he has yet to sign the agreement in person.
The unfinished deal is running alarmingly close to a deadline that could cost the Soler camp some $27 million. According to the new collective bargaining agreement, any international signings finalized after July 2 can be for a maximum of $2.9 million.
Before Soler can complete the deal, he must finalize the specifics of his work visa. Then, he must arrive in the Unites States and sign the contract after routine physical exams are complete.
Where the 20-year-old Cuba native begins his Cubs career is another question. The outfielder is expected to begin play at a level below Triple-A, and the expectation is that he will get at least two years of minor league experience before he plays in the major leagues.
When he does arrive in the majors, he is expected to join the core of players the Cubs are trying to build around. That core includes shortstop Starlin Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who made his Cubs debut Tuesday.
Since Ryan Dempster is still expected to miss another start because of a sore right latissimus dorsi muscle, the Cubs will continue to have rotation questions. But manager Dale Sveum suggested the club can go with four starters if Dempster can return by Tuesday of next week.
“I don’t know what we do now,” Sveum said. “We have a few days to think about it and talk about it. The day off (Thursday) we might not even need (a fifth starter). We’ll sit down and see what we come up with.”
Wells was given two starts in place of Dempster and walked four in each of them. When he walked Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee with no outs in the fourth inning, he was removed from the game.
“I just continue to make dumb pitches that are getting me in bad counts and I’m having to work that much harder to squeeze by innings,” Wells said. “It’s easy to sit here and dwell on the negatives. It obviously wasn’t a good start. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. But we scratched out a win.”
Give Wells credit for pointing out all the positives around him. There were the two hits and the go-ahead RBI from Anthony Rizzo in his Cubs debut. There was the first career victory for reliever Scott Maine. And there was the 100th career save for closer Carlos Marmol that came despite walking the leadoff man in the ninth inning.
“I’m not going to sit here and beat myself up or dwell on the negatives,” Wells said. “It’s pretty obvious that when you walk four guys and walk the pitcher trying to sacrifice, you’re trying to do too much, trying to be too fine and not trusting your stuff.”
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs kicked off life with Anthony Rizzo in fine fashion Tuesday, beating the New York Mets 5-3 to give themselves a chance at a three-game sweep Wednesday.
How it happened: Rizzo didn’t disappoint in his Cubs debut with an infield single in his first at-bat and an RBI double in his third. He made a productive out in his second at-bat when he moved two runners into scoring position with a groundout. Randy Wells struggled, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks in three-plus innings, but the bullpen picked up the slack.
What it means: The offense wasn’t great but it had a little better flow. Give Rizzo credit, especially on his two-out RBI in the fourth inning that gave the Cubs their 4-3 lead. Then again, plenty of help came from the Mets defense. They made three errors in one inning Monday and let an insurance run score in the ninth inning Tuesday on a throwing error by Ruben Tejada.
Outside the box: Wells’ four walks gave him eight in two outings since he took over a spot in the rotation after Ryan Dempster went on the disabled list. Dempster is expected to miss one more start, but Wells isn’t expected to make it. Said manager Dale Sveum before the game: “Obviously this is one where we need him to step up and do what he can do, throw strikes, keep the ball down, but throw strikes. That's basically all he has to do.”
Off beat: The Rizzo excitement was expected, of course, as he got a little more recognition from the crowd than the rest of his teammates. It was effective. Take the first inning when an error was ruled on Rizzo’s hard bouncer to shortstop that was bobbled on a backhand by Tejada. Fans booed the scorekeeper’s call immediately and it was quickly changed to a single. The cheering was a little overzealous in the seventh inning when the volume rose sharply on Rizzo’s fly ball that was caught easily in front of the warning track.
Up next: The Cubs will send right-hander Jeff Samardzija to the mound Wednesday in the finale. The Mets will counter with left-hander Jonathon Niese (5-3, 3.75) in the 1:20 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.
CHICAGO -- Forget the clutch hit, the Cubs could use a clutch ground out to the right side at this point.
For the second consecutive night, the Cubs wasted a leadoff triple by not getting the run home. On Tuesday night it was David DeJesus who was left at third with White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy on the mound. On Wednesday, Starlin Castro had a triple to start the sixth inning and never moved again.
Trailing by three runs Wednesday, the Cubs were trying to get on the scoreboard for the first time against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd. When the same thing happened Tuesday, at least the Cubs had a lead at that point and they were able to hang on for the victory without the insurance run.
It was the second time in Wednesday’s game the Cubs couldn’t move a runner along. DeJesus had a leadoff double in the third inning, but Castro couldn’t get him over with no outs in a scoreless game. The White Sox scored their first two runs in the bottom of that inning.
“Those are things we have to get better at,” manager Dale Sveum said. “We gave one away that we could have taken the lead on early (in the third inning) if we could have got the guy over and we swing at the first pitch and roll over and don’t get anything out of that. That was probably the key of the game right there.”
Although not as high profile as some of his previous gaffes, Sveum’s words sounded like another indictment of Castro’s inability to recognize a situation and utilize the proper plan of attack. But Castro isn’t the only one with situational-hitting problems.
The Cubs have struggled with runners in scoring position all season, batting just .234 in those instances heading into play Wednesday. They were also tied for 22nd in baseball in sacrifice flies with 13.
In the end, their failure to bring home the run from third Wednesday became moot when Gordon Beckham hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the White Sox a six-run lead.
CHICAGO – Two of the Chicago Cubs’ much maligned groups teamed up in a big way Wednesday to not only salvage a game that appeared lost, but to finish off the first three-game sweep of the season.
The offense was the gang that got the most attention Wednesday thanks to the late rally and the walkoff home run from Darwin Barney to defeat the San Diego Padres 8-6. Without the performance from the bullpen, though, the comeback never happens.
Four Cubs relief pitchers combined to deliver 4 2/3 scoreless innings after Ryan Dempster had a rare rocky outing, allowing the comeback to happen in the first place.
Casey Coleman, who didn’t even make the club out of spring training, started it off with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, getting two of his five outs by strikeout. Next came Carlos Marmol, who managed to put his earlier demotion from the closer’s role and a recent hamstring issue behind him to pitch a scoreless seventh despite allowing two more walks.
Next was Randy Wells, whose bid for the final spot in the Cubs’ rotation fell short just as spring training came to a close. He had a perfect eighth inning.
Last came James Russell’s ninth inning that he came out of unscathed despite giving up two hits.
“Confidence isn’t a problem right now,” Russell said, acknowledging the bullpen’s earlier struggles. “We’re feeling really good and everybody is just doing their job and making quality pitches and staying out of trouble. Then we make sure if we do give up runs it isn’t a crooked number.”
It’s been one of new manager Dale Sveum’s biggest challenges to get the most out of a bullpen that has been reconfigured on the fly, but for the past few days there are signs of hope.
“We've been tremendous this whole homestand really,” Sveum said of his relievers. “I think we gave up one run maybe. Marmol did a nice job after walking a couple guys, came back threw strikes. Russell made a huge pitch again. I can't say enough about Russell and what he's done. It’s just been great.
“The bullpen has just been doing a great job. It was just one of those days where Dempster didn't go out there with the same ammunition he normally goes out there with.”
Dempster might still be without a victory, but the rest of the team fought to at least make sure he didn’t end up with another defeat. A half inning after he was removed, the Cubs scored a pair of runs on two bases-loaded walks.
In the eighth inning it was a Reed Johnson pinch-hit single off Andrew Cashner, two steals from pinch runner Tony Campana and an RBI infield single from Starlin Castro to tie it. Barney then lifted his game-winning homer in the ninth inning into the wind, still managing to reach the first row of bleacher seats.
“That was the first walkoff home run I’ve had at any level,” Barney said. “I didn’t even see it go out. I was just running, running hard. It was crazy. It’s already gone and passed, it just happened so fast. It was exciting. It’s good for our club.”
There was plenty more that was good for the Cubs like Steve Clevenger’s two hits and two RBIs in his first game back from the disabled list, Castro’s two hits to extend his hit streak to eight games and Johnson’s seventh pinch hit to give him a .467 (7-for-15) batting average in that role.
Offense from unexpected sources will go a long way toward making the Cubs a more productive club and one that’s a little easier to watch.
“Yeah when you get to the bottom part of your order, putting up numbers and slugging percentage and all that, you're going to score runs,” Sveum said. “That's the bottom line sometimes. We were struggling there when the bottom of the lineup. Our top guys were actually doing their job but there wasn't anything getting done at the bottom.”
It’s one of a flurry of moves the club has made of late, including sending Chris Volstad to Triple-A, trading for Koyie Hill, swapping out Blake Parker for Scott Maine and seeing Kerry Wood retire.
Soto had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday for a partially torn meniscus. His move to the DL is retroactive to Thursday.
Wells, who started Saturday against the Phillies, could be available to pitch in an emergency situation Tuesday against the Cincinnati Reds. There is a better chance he can be used in relief Wednesday. By Thursday he could be pitching elsewhere.
With Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood both expected to come off the disabled list Thursday, the Cubs will have to make a pair of corresponding roster moves. While there was some consideration given to keeping Wells in the bullpen beyond Dempster’s return, he figures to be headed back to Iowa so he can continue to start.
He did have his regular between-start bullpen session Monday, but manager Dale Sveum said it wasn’t too taxing.
Wells had been cruising along in his last start, beginning the game with three hitless innings. He lost command, though and never got through four innings. He was 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two starts while Dempster was down with a strained right quadriceps muscle.
PHILADELPHIA -- Randy Wells’ night got away in the fourth inning when he faced eight batters, but there was one he just couldn’t get out of his mind.
The batter that had Wells still seething long after his outing was complete came when opposing pitcher Joe Blanton worked a four-pitch walk with two outs that gave Rollins his chance in the first place.
“Obviously the walk to the pitcher is unacceptable and it makes me want to throw up,” Wells said. “I made a pretty decent pitch to Rollins and he just kept it fair. But that has nothing to do with it. It was downhill before that even happened.”
Wells had actually been cruising until the fourth, holding the Phillies without a hit over the first three innings before it all fell apart.
“It was too bad because he was pitching pretty well and he just couldn’t even find the strike zone,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Things were looking goo going into that inning and the lineup was set to just run right through it and he couldn’t even get through the pitcher without walking him.”
Sent to Triple-A Iowa to start the season, in part to work on his command, Wells has found it tough to find the strike zone ever since he was promoted last weekend after Ryan Dempster went to the disabled list.
Wells walked five in his season debut against the Cubs last Sunday and had three of his four walks Saturday in the fourth inning. He managed to work his way around trouble against the Reds by giving up just two runs, but his day was done after five innings.
He looked to be much improved and void of nerves Saturday, that is until the Phillies started getting base runners.
“It’s mindboggling to me,” Wells said. “I can watch the tape and see but it’s obviously a mechanical thing. Runners get on and the tension gets high and you kind of rush and speed up and I’m just burying [pitches in the dirt] that aren’t even close. You have to make pitches when your back is against the wall and I didn’t do it tonight.”
The difference between the first three innings and his fateful fourth was a matter of one of his pitches leaving him at the most inopportune moment.
“I had a pretty good changeup going,” he said. “The gameplan was working. I just got away from it and lost command of the changeup. I threw way too many, back to back. I brought the hitters back into the count and didn’t make the pitches when I had to.”
By the end of the trip, when Dempster comes off the disabled list, the Cubs will have to decide what to do with Wells. Sveum said the right-hander is still under consideration for the long-man spot in the bullpen, but getting sent back to Triple-A Iowa is another option.
“I’m not going to talk about that,” Wells said. “It’s beyond my control.”
Dempster has been out with a strained right quadriceps muscle, going on the disabled list retroactive to April 18. He is eligible to return on Thursday in the series finale against the Cincinnati Reds, which is also the final day of the current road trip.
“He’s ready,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s running, which was the final step with him. The bullpen and running went great. He’s ready to come back on his normal day.”
CHICAGO -- The offense rallied to tie it in the middle innings Saturday, but the Chicago Cubs bullpen let it get away in a 4-3 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds.
How it happened: Making his first start of the season, Randy Wells worked his way in and out of trouble, managing to give up just two runs over five innings. The offense couldn’t build on its momentum from Saturday, though, and scored just twice, with one of the runs coming after an errant wild pickoff throw. Alfonso Soriano twice made outs with the bases loaded. Starlin Castro was hit in the elbow by a pitch but remained in the game after a visit from the medical staff and later hit a triple in the ninth inning.
What it means: Wells’ five innings means the bullpen worked another four innings on Sunday as it awaits some reinforcement. The fact that Scott Maine pitched 1 2/3 innings Sunday, two days after throwing an inning makes it likely that he is guy on his way back to Iowa as right-hander Michael Bowden gets ready to join the roster Monday. When it comes to innings pitched, though, the Cubs entered Sunday with 42 2/3 innings from its relievers, still in the bottom third among teams in all of baseball.
Outside the box: Manager Dale Sveum made a curious double-switch to start the sixth inning. Joe Mather remained in the game after batting for Wells. But instead of taking the spot of Soriano, who made the last out in the bottom of the fifth, Sveum had Mather replace Bryan LaHair at first base. Mather can play both positions. LaHair had just driven a run in the fifth with a single and improved his batting average to .361. Soriano, who is barely batting over .200, struck out with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
Off beat: Speed can be a menace on the baseball field and Tony Campana proved to be a particular issue for Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto. After an infield single in the first inning, Campana coaxed Cueto into a balk. In the third inning Cueto rushed on Campana’s sacrifice bunt back up the box, fumbled the ball and couldn’t get the throw to first base in time. Campana nearly reached base a third consecutive time when Cueto bobbled a comebacker, but his throw to first base was just in time. The call still drew an argument from Sveum with first-base umpire Jerry Meals.
Up next: Cubs right-hander Matt Garza (1-1, 3.66 ERA) will take the mound Monday in the opener of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis will counter with left-hander Jamie Garcia in the 7 p.m. start from Wrigley Field.