The Chicago Cubs have finally gotten relief pitcher James Russell out of the starting rotation and back into the bullpen. This is because they've finally found someone to replace him -- veteran lefty Doug Davis, who'll start tomorrow against the San Francisco Giants.
Naturally, now that the team has their fifth starter dilemma all squared away, one of the two injured pitchers whose disappearance onto the disabled list led to this whole mess will soon be ready to return. Ain't that just how life is?
Randy Wells, who rather shockingly went down with a forearm strain on April 6, will make a start for Cubs' Class A minor league affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs, this Tuesday, May 17. The right-hander's injury has generally been considered relatively manageable, so it's no surprise he's on his way to coming back first.
Yesterday, April 12, Wells made a two-inning, 40-pitch appearance for the Extended Spring Training Cubs in Mesa, Arizona. He struck out two batters, walked none, balked once and otherwise surrendered five hits and three runs (two earned).
Andrew Cashner, who also went to the disabled list on April 6 with a more worrisome strained right rotator cuff, is throwing but still a ways off from making a comparable rehab start. Cash Money threw a 30-pitch batting-practice session against live hitters on Thursday from which no ill effects were reported.
At least not for him. Apparently, he nailed former Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Augie Ojeda in the foot. (A tip o' the cap to Arizona Phil at The Cub Reporter for this info and the details on Wells' Arizona outing above.)
I would guess that, when Wells is ready to return, Casey Coleman will return to Iowa with Davis staying in the rotation until Cashner is ready. At that point, it's hard to say what will become of Davis (assuming he pitches well enough and stays adequately healthy that long). There's probably not a place in the bullpen for him. He may agree to an assignment to Triple A or simply be released.
One hopes that Coleman could at least put together a few consistently decent starts before he departs the team for Des Moines. The 23-year-old sinker-baller has really had only one good start thus far out of six, his May 7 outing against the Cincinnati Reds. The rest of his starts have ranged from middling to horrific, and his overall numbers aren't pretty. He's still very young, though, with a good makeup and a smart, reflective approach. So don't give up on Casey turning himself into one of those Minnesota Twinsian, lots-of-ground-balls-not-many-walks type of pitcher.