Pitchers from Iowa happy to be used as Cubs’ pluggers
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter July 9, 2014 10:41PM
Updated: July 9, 2014 11:58PM
CINCINNATI — By the time the fireworks ended in Oklahoma City on Friday night, pitchers for the traveling Iowa Cubs had convened their own amateur front office to solve the newly created openings in the Cubs’ big-league rotation.
“We definitely play out scenarios,” said Kyle Hendricks, the Iowa All-Star who joined the Cubs in Cincinnati on Wednesday for his big-league debut Thursday against the Reds. “All my buddies, we’re talking about it — who’s going to go up, what’s going to happen.
“I knew we got [Dan] Straily over in the trade, so we were all thinking he might be up.”
Until Straily, a veteran of 41 big-league starts with the Athletics, takes his spot in the Cubs’ rotation sometime after the All-Star break, the Cubs are running open auditions internally for two potential openings short term and likely one for the final two months of the season.
Tuesday, 33-year-old Japanese veteran Tsuyoshi Wada — another Iowa All-Star — debuted (five innings, no earned runs). On Wednesday, Dallas Beeler — who impressed in a six-inning debut June 28 — got a second big-league start.
“There are a bunch of guys that could have done it,” Hendricks said, “which says something about the guys they have down there, that anybody could have come up here and filled a slot. I’m just happy that I got that opportunity.”
Hendricks, a former eighth-round draft pick acquired from the Rangers in the Ryan Dempster trade in 2012, was the Cubs’ minor league pitcher of the year last season and impressed the Cubs’ staff in spring training before going 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 17 Class AAA starts.
Anthony Rizzo seems to be taking this All-Star Final Vote campaign seriously.
The Cubs first baseman hit his third home run in as many days Wednesday, a tying shot to right in the third inning. It was his fourth consecutive plate appearance reaching base and fifth time in six.
He said he learned just before the game that MLB announced he had overtaken Rockies front-runner Justin Morneau in fan balloting for the last NL All-Star roster spot.
“It’s really cool,” Rizzo said. “I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed that the fans keep going. I’m really appreciative for all of it. We’ll see what happens.”
Voting, which can be done at cubs.com/vote or by texting “N4” to 89269, ends at 3 p.m. Thursday.
Among those entering the campaign on Rizzo’s behalf Wednesday via Twitter were actor Joe Mantegna and Bears Lance Briggs and Robbie Gould.
Even in the post-jawing age of replay challenges, first-year manager Rick Renteria has launched a Lou Piniella-like start to his managing career. He earned his fifth ejection of the year in the fifth inning, arguing after a would-be third out that was ruled a foul ball during a Reds rally.
◆ Tom Veryzer, a middle infielder who helped the Cubs end a 39-year postseason drought in his final season in 1984, died Wednesday at 61 from complications from a stroke. Veryzer was the 11th overall pick of the Tigers in 1971 and was their shortstop for three years before being succeeded by Alan Trammel.
◆ With their 4-1 loss to the Reds, the Cubs fell to 0-6 since trading starters Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s on Friday. They’ve been outscored 38-12 by the Nationals and Reds.