Wells waits for sinker to click
By Gordon Wittenmyer firstname.lastname@example.org June 10, 2011 11:10PM
The Cubs’ Darwin Barney is tagged out at second well short of the bag by Chase Utley in the ninth inning of the Phillies’ 7-5 victory Friday. | H. Rumph Jr.~AP
Updated: August 3, 2011 7:20PM
PHILADELPHIA — Randy Wells had no idea it was coming. And then it nearly knocked him over as he went into his windup.
“It came that quick,’’ said the Cub pitcher of the severe and sudden windstorm that stopped Thursday night’s game just ahead of a heavy rain shower. “Yeah, you’ve seen storms. But nothing like that where the wind just starts picking up like that. I mean, it blew me off the mound. It was crazy.’’
It’s been that kind of season for Wells, whose third start back from a rushed injury rehab assignment ended with the storm that delayed the Cubs’ eventual win for more than an hour.
But as he continues searching for his out-pitch sinker that has eluded him since the forearm injury, he says he still has that strong season in him that his exceptional spring promised — and that the reeling Cubs desperately need to help boost the worst pitching staff in the majors.
“The way I look at it is that [Thursday’s game] was probably like my last start of spring training [for regaining form], and I feel pretty confident next time out I’ll be where I need to be,’’ said Wells, who figures the touch for his sinker may have gotten lost in his rush to build arm strength after the early April injury.
“Once I get the sinker honed in and start changing speed, I think I’ll be right where I need to be.’’
For now, he has a 9.00 ERA, with three homers and six walks allowed in 12 innings since looking sharp in his lone start before going on the DL.
“I’ve been hurt by the long ball here a little bit early,’’ said Wells, who gave up all three runs Thursday on Jimmy Rollins’ second-inning homer. “But I really feel like I’m going to have a good year. Once I get through this and get where I need to be, it’s going to be a fun thing to be part of.’’
A suspended game for Class AAA Iowa on Thursday likely pushed back the return of outfielder Reed Johnson from an injury rehab assignment into the first part of the week.
Johnson (back) batted twice in a game that was suspended because of rain, and he was expected to play again Friday and then get either today or Sunday off. Originally, he was expected to play two games and return before the end of the Phillies series.
Infielder Jeff Baker (groin), also at Iowa on a rehab stint, might also be activated on Monday.
Injured left fielder Alfonso Soriano (quad) is scheduled to join the rehab crew at Iowa on Sunday.
Matt Garza makes his first start in Philadelphia since Game 3 of the 2008 World Series, when he pitched six innings and gave up home runs to Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley in a 5-4 loss.
◆ Center fielder Marlon Byrd (facial fractures) threw long toss again before batting practice Friday, but isn’t expected to be cleared for more vigorous activity until sometime during next week’s homestand.
◆ Reliever Angel Guzman, who underwent major shoulder surgery 15 months ago, pitched two perfect innings for Class A Peoria on Friday night in his first official game since the surgery, striking out two.