Brett Anderson

How Cubs responded to Brett Anderson’s passive-aggressive shot on Twitter

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USA TODAY

How Cubs responded to Brett Anderson’s passive-aggressive shot on Twitter

PITTSBURGH – The Cubs gave Brett Anderson $3.5 million guaranteed, a clear spot in their rotation and the chance to pitch in front of what had been a historic defensive unit, making him the only guy on the Opening Day roster who hadn’t already earned a World Series ring.

The Cubs got close to a zero return on that investment, but those are the gambles teams take on the free-agent market with talented, injury-prone pitchers, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

Anderson put up an 8.18 ERA in six starts and accounted for 22 innings before going on the disabled list for the 10th time since 2010. It became out of sight, out of mind as the lefty recovered from another back injury, got designated for assignment in late July and signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

But Anderson resurfaced Sunday night on Twitter after two decent starts for Toronto – the last-place Blue Jays lost both games – and took a passive-aggressive shot at the Cubs: “It’s crazy what happens when you aren’t tinkered with and can just go out and pitch.”

“I’m happy he’s healthy and he’s pitching,” pitching coach Chris Bosio said before a 12-0 loss Labor Day loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, walking away from a group of reporters in PNC Park’s visiting dugout. “I’ll just leave it at that.”

Jake Arrieta had every chance to scream told you so, but he never said anything quite like that when he blossomed into a Cy Young Award winner after a change-of-scenery trade with the Baltimore Orioles. Still, the entire industry noticed how Bosio allowed Arrieta to be himself and worked with the unique crossfire delivery that made him comfortable.

Bosio has sharp edges to his personality – and is still dealing with the recent death of his father – but there is no denying his influence in transforming the Cubs from a last-place team into a championship organization.

Whether it’s helping coach up Kyle Hendricks into a major-league ERA leader – or market trade-deadline chips like Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija – Bosio highlights individual strengths and never believes in a cookie-cutter approach.  

“That’s why I love Twitter so much,” said manager Joe Maddon, who was not aware of Anderson’s post on social media or apparent issues with the staff. “How many characters in Twitter?

“To purvey your thoughts, your deepest, darkest thoughts. That’s what the President does every day, oh my God. You get everything out there in 140 characters, my God, it’s so in depth, it’s so meaningful.”

Maddon repeatedly talked up Anderson in spring training as someone who – if healthy – could perform like a top-of-the-rotation starter. Anderson can also be extremely entertaining on Twitter and refreshingly honest while dealing with the media.  

“When a guy’s going to say something like that, he’s had a tough year,” Maddon said. “God bless him, I hope he comes back. I hope he wins 20 games next year. I mean that sincerely. But when a player has a tough year, it’s on the player.”    

Amid all that optimism in Arizona, Anderson explained how Bosio’s reputation and this pitching infrastructure made the Cubs such an attractive destination to reboot his career.

“It’s one of those things where he’s not trying to reinvent the wheel,” Anderson said after his first Cactus League outing in late February. “It’s more trying to limit the pressure on my back and mild mechanical adjustments where I don’t land on my heel as much – and kind of land on the ball of my foot or my toes – so it’s not such a whiplash effect.

“He’s had a good track record with health, especially the last couple years, and hopefully I can fall in line there, too.”

Blue Jays add another former Cub

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USA TODAY

Blue Jays add another former Cub

The Blue Jays already boast former Cubs Miguel Montero and Darwin Barney on their roster and now they are adding another recent Cubs castoff.

Toronto called up left-handed pitcher Brett Anderson Tuesday afternoon.

Anderson signed with the Cubs over the winter and with both sides hoping to cash in on his past upside, he began the season in the starting rotation. Of course, that didn't go over well as he made just six starts to the tune of an 8.18 ERA and 2.091 WHIP, allowing 20 runs on 34 hits and 12 walks in 22 innings.

He got only five outs in his last two starts in early May, getting tagged for 12 runs on 13 hits and a walk in that span before going on the disabled list with a back injury.

It wasn't all bad for Anderson, as he was 2-0 with a 3.54 ERA through his first four starts. Even with his struggles over the last couple years (he also had an 11.91 ERA in 11.1 innings in 2015), the 29-year-old southpaw has a career 3.99 ERA and went 10-9 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2015.

The Cubs released Anderson on July 31 and the Blue Jays scooped him up a couple weeks later. After performing well in a pair of minor-league games for the Blue Jays, Toronto's front office wants to see what he can do for the big-league club in the season's final few weeks.

Anderson will get another chance to work with Montero, who caught two of the lefty's Cubs starts.

Cubs in no rush to make Brett Anderson/Eddie Butler rotation decision

Cubs in no rush to make Brett Anderson/Eddie Butler rotation decision

Brett Anderson had been the only player on the 25-man Opening Day roster without a World Series ring or the equity built up from being part of last year’s championship team. The Cubs viewed him as a relatively low-risk, high-reward gamble at the back of their rotation.

Anderson got booed off the Wrigley Field mound in the first inning his last time out, walking away from a blowout loss to the New York Yankees on May 6 that spiked his ERA to 8.18 and put him on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his lower back.

“I still have confidence in myself that when everything’s healthy, and when everything’s right, I can get people out,” Anderson said. “I just got to get there.”

A significant step will be Tuesday’s bullpen session, but the Cubs are in no rush with a lefty who’s been on the disabled list 10 times since 2010 and already undergone two surgical procedures on his lower back. Anderson said he’s pain-free and relieved that this got diagnosed as a muscle issue and not the kind of disc problem he’s dealt with before.     

The Cubs are clearly intrigued by Eddie Butler’s immediate upside and long-term potential. But the change-of-scenery guy also followed up a great Cub debut – six scoreless innings in a win over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium – by needing 92 pitches to get through three innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in an ugly, rain-soaked loss last week.    

“That’s an evaluation,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Hopefully, nobody gets hurt, either. There are so many different variables involved. For me, the biggest thing is for him to be well, to go pitch, to be pitching well and then you make that decision.”   

Maddon said Anderson – who’s working on a one-year, $3.5 million, incentive-laden deal tied to starts – “absolutely” will need to go on a rehab assignment. 

“But we haven’t put pencil to paper or whatever in regards to doing that yet,” Maddon said. “He’s doing well. It shouldn’t be too long. It’s just a matter of him getting everything together and getting some work back in. So I don’t have a finish line. But I think he’s in pretty good shape moving forward.”