Cubs

Cubs managing a crisis: Cashner, Wells to DL

438093.jpg

Cubs managing a crisis: Cashner, Wells to DL

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 10:24 a.m. Updated: 3:23 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Its only April 6, but already the Cubs have reached the seasons first crisis point.

Without flashing any warning signs, Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells are heading to the disabled list, leaving 40 percent of the Cubs rotation in doubt.

Cashner has been diagnosed with a rotator cuff strain. Wells has strained his right forearm. Neither starter will throw a baseball for two weeks, at which point they will be re-evaluated by the Cubs medical staff.

General manager Jim Hendry said Wednesday that he doesnt expect this to be a long-term health issue for Cashner or Wells, and ruled out surgery as an option for either pitcher.

Cashners parents traveled to Chicago for his first career major-league start. They watched their 24-year-old son keep the Arizona Diamondbacks completely off-balance, working the ball up and down, in and out.

Cashner felt something in the sixth inning around his 71st and 72nd pitches and was pulled after allowing just one run on two hits. He didnt even shower and headed straight to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for an MRI.

I dont think this is too serious, Cashner said. We caught it at the right time, jumped on it early. (Well) rehab it back and get it strong and be good to go.

The Texan always stays confident and does not like to show weakness. The Cubs invested their 2008 first-round pick in Cashner because of the smooth, easy way the ball leaves his right hand. He doesnt need a violent motion to generate velocity.

Hes never had anything but a blister, Hendry said. (He has a) great delivery thats about as easy a 95-to-97 mph (throw) as youre going to see. Great mechanics hes a scouts dream and a tough kid. It just came out of nowhere. There was never any discomfort.

Wells doesnt have much of a medical history either. The 28-year-old pitched as well as anyone in Cubs camp, displaying a renewed focus and commitment, and carried that momentum into Mondays 4-1 victory over the Diamondbacks.

Wells felt sore the next day and underwent an MRI that did not reveal any structural damage or elbow issues. He finished last season at 8-14 with a 4.26 ERA, but took great pride in making 32 starts and accounting for almost 200 innings. For the moment that durability is now in question.

Its a big year for me you want (to) get off to a great start, Wells said. You want to be a part of what I feel is something special here. To take some time off this early in the season is (disappointing). You just want to take care of it and make sure its not something thats going to linger throughout the season.

Im going to put on my best cheerleading outfit here and get myself healthy and make sure Im out here pulling for my teammates every day.

The Cubs are now on the clock to identify starters for Sunday in Milwaukee and next Tuesday in Houston. Theyll benefit from three off-days built into their April schedule.

Casey Coleman impressed many in the organization during his audition late last season, going 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts. The third-generation big-league pitcher is expected to be called up from Triple-A Iowa to join the rotation.

The Cubs are also considering stretching out reliever James Russell for the other spot. When asked about two non-roster invitees to camp, Hendry indicated that Todd Wellemeyer isnt ready yet, and that Braden Looper isnt about to come out of retirement.

Forget about Carlos Silva he torched every bridge back to Chicago with his comments about pitching coach Mark Riggins. The entire industry has stayed away from Silva since his unconditional release.

Now the Cubs must be patient with Cashner and Wells and take the long view on two pitchers they could see in their rotation for years to come.

We will obviously proceed with extreme caution, Hendry said. Well find a way to get through it. No excuses. Nobodys going to feel sorry for you.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

andre_dawson.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion.