03/29/12 8:52 PM ET
Wells sent down to lead rotation at Triple-A
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
But the right-hander didn't expect he would be one of the reserves for 2012. On Thursday, the Cubs optioned Wells to Triple-A Iowa, where he will start.
"It was obviously a shock," Wells said. "Things didn't work out. I've got to go down and get stretched back out and try to get built up and make some starts and hopefully be ready when they need me."
The Cubs rotation will be Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm. Wells, 29, did not get a spot even though he did not give up a run in 7 1/3 innings over three Cactus League appearances.
"Randy had a real good spring and we made that clear to him," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "It wasn't for his lack of effort.
"We came in here with seven starters competing for five jobs. Travis [Wood] has a really bright future with us but he struggled a little bit this spring and needs to go to Triple-A and regain what he had in 2010. Randy pitched real well and I thought he put his best foot forward. Jeff and Chris pitched a little better."
The Cubs did consider using Wells in long relief but instead consider him the sixth starter.
"We're not going to play with five starters all year," Hoyer said. "We need him stretched out in Triple-A. That was the message -- yes, you're not in the rotation to start the season but that means very little in a six-month marathon. I'm sure he'll make a lot of starts for the Cubs this year."
There are plenty of teams looking for starting pitching but Hoyer said the goal this year was to make sure they were protected.
"The minute you think you have depth, you don't have depth," Hoyer said.
Wells won a spot in the rotation last year and after coming back from his forearm injury finished 7-6 with a 4.99 ERA in 23 starts. He had been pushed back in the Cubs' spring rotation, so he should have gotten a little heads up.
"Usually when this happens, you've had a rough spring or haven't been pitching well," Wells said. "I feel I've thrown the ball well in a variety of different roles.
"I'm not going to sit here and lie and be the guy who says I'm not disappointed because I am," he said. "It is what it is. It's a point in your career where you have to buckle down and you know what you have to do. It's a wake-up call to see it's not that easy to stay here. Hopefully next time I get called up, it's the last time I have to deal with this."
Samardzija could definitely relate. He's been called into the manager's office before and told he was headed to the Minors.
"It's not fun, man," Samardzija said. "You've got a lot of people supporting you and a lot of people pulling for you to get to where you want to go. It's hard to get past the feeling that you let them down. The truth is there are a couple things you have to work on. For me, personally, I had to work on a lot of things.
"To get sent down is tough ... but a lot of times it'll show you who you are, whether you bounce back, keep fighting or pack it in," Samardzija said. "It's a crossroads. Randy will be fine. He throws a lot of strikes, keeps the ball down in the zone. He'll be a big part of the team this year eventually."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Wells did well but Samardzija and Volstad "threw the heck out of the ball as well."
"You let [Wells] know he's the sixth guy and needs to go down and get going to be that guy who gets called up when unfortunate injuries happen," Sveum said.
Wells remembers 2009 when he also began the year at Triple-A Iowa, was 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA, and was called up when Carlos Zambrano was sidelined with a hamstring injury.
"In 2009, the same kind of thing, I went down to Triple-A, started off good and came up and never looked back," Wells said. "We'll just see what happens."
Volstad glad to get rough start out of the way
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Chris Volstad had been nearly perfect this spring, giving up one run over 10 innings in three Cactus League games for the Cubs. On Thursday, the Padres roughed up the tall right-hander, scoring six runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings, including four runs in the third. San Diego rallied for a 12-11 win.
"Today wasn't that great," Volstad said. "Everything was two outs [when the runs scored] and it was one pitch each of those innings and I could be out of that. I'm kind of glad it happened. I was fighting my body a little bit today and had that feeling of fighting myself. It's good to get that out of the way."
He did help himself with a two-run single in the second.
"Those hits probably won't keep coming like they have been but the bunts, I'll take those all day," he said.
The right-hander found out before the game that he had made the Cubs rotation and will start April 9 against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Volstad will make one more start in a Minor League game Tuesday at Fitch Park, then head north to Chicago.
"I've been waiting for the season to start for a couple weeks," he said. "I can't wait for it."
Bogaerts sent from Red Sox as compensation
MESA, Ariz. -- The Red Sox sent first baseman Jair Bogaerts to the Cubs to complete the compensation for Theo Epstein, named president of baseball operations in late October.
Bogaerts, 19, has played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. His brother, Xander, is one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization.
In February, the Cubs announced they were sending pitcher Chris Carpenter and a player to be named to the Red Sox as compensation for Epstein, hired in late October as the Cubs president of baseball operations. The Cubs were to also receive a player to be named, which is Bogaerts. Epstein had one year remaining on his contract with the Red Sox at the time he joined the Cubs.
On March 15, the Cubs announced they were sending Minor League pitcher Aaron Kurcz to the Red Sox as the player to be named. However, Carpenter revealed on Wednesday he will undergo surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.
"It's certainly something we had no knowledge of," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday about Carpenter's injury. "I don't think he had any elbow issues for the last two years. It's unexpected and unfortunate.
"It's obviously something you never want to happen," Hoyer said. "With any trade, you want both sides to feel good. It's not a great thing to have happen both for Chris or the Red Sox."
Clevenger named backup catcher to Soto
MESA, Ariz. -- Steve Clevenger doesn't have any second thoughts now about converting to catcher.
Clevenger beat out Welington Castillo for the backup catcher's job on the Cubs' 25-man roster. Both were told Thursday.
"Any time you have good competition, you're better off," Clevenger said. "'Welly' did a heck of a job here, too. I wish him well in Iowa. I hope to see him soon."
Clevenger, 25, batted .333 (12-for-36) while Castillo, 24, hit .324 (12-for-37), with each playing 17 Cactus League games. Clevenger, a converted shortstop, is a left-handed hitter and also can play first.
"[Clevenger] is a really good fit as a partner with [Geovany] Soto but it's not a knock on Castillo," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "We think [Castillo] has a really bright future here. He had a great spring for us and we think he has a chance to be an everyday catcher for a long time. It was a good competition, Clevenger won it, and he certainly has a really bright future."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum told Castillo that some day he'll be an All-Star but that they want him to play every day. How much will Clevenger play?
"I think that's up to probably [Soto] and how things are going with him," Sveum said. "'Geo's' our No. 1 guy but Clevenger can bring a lot to the table with his left-handed bat. Playing time, are you going to say two days a week, three days a week? That's up to Geo and the schedule we have and day games, night games, right-handed pitchers, left-handed pitchers. [Clevenger's] the kind of guy who can get hot with a bat and push for more playing time as well."
Clevenger was called up last September and appeared in two games. He did get a hit in his last at-bat.
"I'm kind of excited, kind of pumped up, ready to go," he said. "I feel good about it. I'm speechless right now, trying to soak the moment up.
"It was a good choice in my career to be a catcher and now it's paying off," he said.
Mather, DeWitt make Opening Day roster
MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Mather and Blake DeWitt know they can put gear on the truck headed Saturday to Chicago but a lot of the Cubs relievers will have to wait.
On Thursday, Mather and DeWitt were told they had made the 25-man Opening Day roster. The bullpen, though, is still in flux.
The Cubs trimmed the spring roster to 31 Thursday when they optioned Randy Wells, Scott Maine, Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Welington Castillo to Triple-A Iowa, and assigned Blake Lalli, Blake Parker, Matt Tolbert and Edgar Gonzalez to the Minor League camp.
Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and James Russell are set in the Cubs' bullpen, and general manager Jed Hoyer said some of the relievers have been told they can plan on being in Chicago on April 5 for the season opener.
"It's safe to say some guys in the bullpen have an inkling and know what their roles will be," Hoyer said.
But there are still decisions to be made. Do they keep Rule 5 pickup Lendy Castillo? Is Rodrigo Lopez the long man? Is Rafael Dolis ready?
"To announce where we stand today is probably premature," Hoyer said. "The rest of the club, we know what will look like."
Mather, who came up through the Cardinals system and has 268 big league at-bats with St. Louis and Atlanta, gives the Cubs a right-handed bat who can play first, third and all outfield positions.
"I told him he made the team, which was nice when most of your day is telling people you didn't make the team," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Mather. "He's a perfect fit for this team, having corner guys who are left-handed hitters. He's able to play all the outfield positions and he's played them all above average."
The announcement was well received by Mather's father, Jack, 65, who gave his son a huge hug and kiss on the cheek before Thursday's game against the Padres.
The Cubs had designated DeWitt for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for infielder Adrian Cardenas, but told DeWitt at that time they still wanted the infielder.
"We're really happy he stuck with us," Hoyer said of DeWitt. "Our goal, and we told him this, was to have him on the club and Adrian Cardenas at Triple-A. Adrian had a good spring but all along we wanted Blake on the team and he played well and earned that job."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.