PHILADELPHIA Randy Wells snapped his head back in frustration as he watched the ball bounce off the chalk into the right-field corner.
This is a guy who has lived almost his entire professional career on the margins, a 38th-round pick, converted from catcher, the sixth starter in a five-man rotation.
Wells wanted to make a good impression on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park, to give the Cubs something to think about while they make their decisions.
Beneath a steady rain, it all unraveled in the fourth inning of a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies that didnt help change the perception of Wells.
Wells had a no-hitter going until Hunter Pence led off with a double down the left-field line. He walked two batters to load the bases for Carlos Ruiz, who lined a two-run single past diving shortstop Starlin Castro.
Wells got too fine, lost control of his changeup and kept the inning alive by walking the pitcher, Joe Blanton. Moments later, Jimmy Rollins sliced that two-out, two-run double that nicked the right-field line.
Obviously, the walk to the pitcher is just unacceptable, Wells said, and it makes me want to throw up.
If that ball goes foul, well, who knows what might have happened.
But Wells has to get by on command and he hasnt looked especially sharp in these two spot starts since being called up from Triple-A Iowa. Hes been out of character, walking nine in 8 23 innings.
Its mind-boggling, Wells said. You can watch the game or watch the tape and see its obviously a mechanical thing. Runners get on and the tension gets high and you kind of rush and speed up and just start burying them. Theyre not even close. You got to make pitches when your back is against the wall and I just didnt do it.
Its atrocious and unacceptable and I feel like I let myself and the team down. Its just really piss-poor.
That ended the night for Wells (0-1, 6.23 ERA), who gave up four runs in 3 23 innings and has no clue what the Cubs are going to do next.
Im not going to talk about that, dude, he said. Its out of my control.
Manager Dale Sveum said it looks like everythings on track for Ryan Dempster (strained right quad) to come off the disabled list and start on Thursday in Cincinnati.
Thats when the Cubs hope Kerry Wood (right shoulder fatigue) will be activated and rejoin the bullpen, though it depends on how he responds in Mondays simulated game.
That again leaves Wells up in the air, perhaps looking at a spot as the long man in the bullpen.
Well cross that bridge when we get to it on Thursday and see where were at, Sveum said. Hes definitely in the mix for that spot.
At this point, the Cubs (7-14) arent giving their pitchers any real margin for error. They couldnt generate much offense against Blanton, who allowed two runs in 7 13 innings.
The Phillies (10-11) have struggled to score runs and welcomed the help with franchise players Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on the disabled list.
It had to be deeply disappointing for Wells, who wants to prove the doubters wrong and get his career back on track.
I dont know if we sent him down to work on his command, Sveum said. It was more of just a numbers thing as much as anything. But we got to pitch in the strike zone or youre not going to have much success at this level.