Stevens out to show trade was worth it
One of three pitchers acquired for DeRosa looking to make squad
MESA, Ariz. -- Jeff Stevens knows he's not just trying to make a good impression on the Cubs but also on the fans. When you're traded for a popular player, it's tough to win them over.
Stevens, a right-handed pitcher, was acquired New Year's Eve from the Indians along with two other Minor League pitchers for versatile infielder Mark DeRosa.
"What couldn't he do?" Stevens said of DeRosa, projected to be the Indians starting third baseman. "Everyone here I've talked to has said good things about him."
But Stevens isn't trying to replace DeRosa. He's just trying to win a spot in the Cubs' bullpen, and got his first taste of action on Wednesday, pitching one inning in relief during the 5-3 win over the Dodgers.
Stevens gave up a leadoff single, and at one point in the ninth inning, pitching coach Larry Rothschild came out to talk to him.
"It calmed me down," Stevens said. "I have a tendency to get going real fast. Catch the ball -- throw, throw, throw. He came out and said, 'Take a deep breath and execute the pitch,' and it helped me out and calmed me down. That's usually when I get into trouble is when I get going real quick."
Stevens is on the Cubs' travel squad for Friday's game in Surprise, Ariz., against the Rangers.
"Hopefully, in the second outing, you're a little more under control," Stevens said.
But it's important to make a good first impression. There aren't many openings on the Cubs' roster.
"That was the first time anyone had ever seen me throw as a Cub," Stevens said. "I think it went OK.
"It's almost like you feel like you have something to prove when you're coming to a new organization," he said. "It can be good for me and it can be bad. You might try to go out and be too perfect. We'll see what happens."
Stevens was 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA in 17 games with Double-A Akron and 0-3 with a 3.94 ERA in 19 games at Triple-A Buffalo last season. He totaled six saves, five of those with Buffalo.
This was the second time the 25-year-old has been traded. On June 13, 2006, he was dealt from Cincinnati to Cleveland for infielder Brandon Phillips.
"You're never sitting around thinking you're going to get traded," Stevens said. "I got a call from Ross Atkins, who is the Indians farm director. He called me at 8:15 on New Year's Eve morning. I kind of knew -- why else would he be calling?"
The news didn't dampen his New Year's Eve celebration.
"I was excited," Stevens said. "When you get traded, it means somebody else wants you. It's always nice to start fresh somewhere."
Now, he has to convince the Cubs he's ready.
"I know there's openings," Stevens said. "I was told to come here in good shape, ready to make the team. I'm going to go out and go about my business here and let the chips fall."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.