Sunday, March 20, 2011
Posted: 8:23 p.m.
By Patrick Mooney
MESA, Ariz. The new Randy Wells did not give an acceptance speech. He was not dressed in a tuxedo, thanking all the people that helped him get here. But at this point you have to declare him a winner in this competition.
Its almost impossible to see Wells not being in the Cubs rotation come April. And that remained true even before he dominated the San Francisco Giants in Sundays 3-2 win.
In front of 13,465 fans a record for HoHoKam Park Wells gave up two hits to start the game and then retired the final 18 batters he faced. He gave up one run across six innings and didnt even reach his pitch limit.
Not bad for someone who recently joked about going to Triple-A Iowa, saying it could be worse, that he was glad to just have a job.
Its not up to me, Wells said. Until the decisions made, I cant really say anything. Ive been goofing around and making stupid comments. (But) its just because I dont know what to say. I think Ive done enough.
Publicly, the Cubs arent going to go so far as to anoint Wells as their fourth starter just yet. The front office and the coaching staff will meet this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday, to make some decisions.
But the 28-year-old right-hander now has a 1.35 ERA through his first five games, a 20-inning stretch. Manager Mike Quade called it an unbelievable spring, and it comes at a time when the Cubs seem to be looking for an exit strategy with Carlos Silva.
As Quade said, I cant tell you anything other than I have been super-impressed with Mr. Wells.
Wells has rolled his eyes at all the sophomore jinx talk. Hes sick and tired of talking about last year, when he let outside influences affect him, and people unfairly started to question his work habits and how much he enjoys the nightlife.
Unfortunate things were said, and stuff I couldnt control (got) to me, Wells said. Im really working hard on not giving a (expletive) what people think.
That goes for the way Wells has pitched he didnt let Sundays start mushroom into a big first inning and the way he has carried himself, with a quiet confidence.
Hes matured quite a bit, catcher Geovany Soto said. His pitching and his mechanics hes taking this stuff a little bit more seriously and it shows. Whenever he pitches, hes got a quick tempo. You can see in his eyes that he knows what he needs to do.
The Cubs would love to see the Wells from last April (3-0, 3.45), July (2-2, 1.83) and September (2-2, 3.15) who looked like a No. 3 starter.
Wells cant forget what he did last May (0-3, 5.40), June (0-3, 6.14) and August (1-4, 5.91). But he thinks hes better for the experience and takes great pride in being able to make 32 starts and contribute almost 200 innings.
Sometimes you start talking about (Wells) like hes a 10-year guy, Quade said. Not only am I excited to see what hes doing now, but there are still plenty of possibilities for this guy down the road because, to me, hes still very young after converting from catcher.
His ceiling could be a lot higher than any of us might think.
Wells looks at it exactly the same way. For him, this is all a confidence game.
You just got to be confident in your ability, Wells said. As long as you believe what youve done is right and youve done the work and prepared yourself to go out there and pitch, (thats all that matters).
When people get defensive or when people take offense to whats said or worry about whats said, its probably because theyre guilty. For me, I know that I took care of what I (needed to).
PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.