SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- It's rather cloudy in the Valley of the Sun today, although no rain is in the forecast, so the Cubs and Indians will proceed with their game, which I will be listening to online with all of you.
Here's a random thought I had when I heard the Cubs had signed Casper Wells to a minor-league deal with a NRI. Last June 28, Wells pitched the ninth inning for the White Sox in a 19-10 blowout. He threw a scoreless inning and walked one and struck out one. What was more interesting, as you can see on Gameday, is that he was throwing 93 mile-per-hour four-seam fastballs. He struck out Asdrubal Cabrera, a pretty decent hitter, on a slider.
So, I thought, since Wells is no more than a fringe major-league player as a hitter, why not try him as a relief pitcher?
Turns out Wells has had similar thoughts, according to Carrie Muskat:
Last year, Wells, 29, became the first position player to pitch in both leagues, doing so for the White Sox on June 28 and the Phillies on Aug. 24. It was the first time he pitched since his days at Towson University in 2005. "In college, all I knew was to throw a lot of fastballs," Wells said. "I didn't like to walk people, so I threw a lot of strikes. Playing this game for a while, you have to learn how to not throw strikes and throw more offspeed to get hitters off balance. I always pride myself on my arm. I've always had a good arm. It's just a God-given ability. I take pride in my arm and take care of it."
Wells' outing for the Phillies against the Diamondbacks was, uh, not quite as good. You'll note, though, that Wells had played that entire game (and gone 0-for-7 with four strikeouts) and was pitching in the 18th inning; thus, fatigue might have been a factor. He wound up with the loss in that game, incidentally.
The point is -- why not? Here's a guy who is 29 and not likely to stick on the Cubs roster as an outfielder. Why not convert him to relief full-time? He might be able to have a few decent years as a middle reliever, with that velocity.
Bonifacio LF, Murphy 3B, Schierholtz RF, Rizzo DH, Castillo C, Olt 1B, Barney SS, Almora CF, Alcantara 2B
Today will be Darwin Barney's first 2014 spring start at shortstop.
Bourn CF, Swisher 1B, Kipnis 2B, Santana 3B, Brantley LF, Cabrera SS, Gomes DH, Murphy RF, Perez C
Hey, look! Asdrubal Cabrera is playing today. Maybe Wells could be called on to strike him out again.
Travis Wood will start for the Cubs today; he threw two innings in a sim game Saturday after the rainout, so this is his first Cactus League action. Other Cubs on today's pitching list: Tommy Hottovy, Marcus Hatley, Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon, Chang-yong Lim and Jonathan Sanchez.
Justin Masterson will start for Cleveland. Our old pal Aaron Harang and top prospect Trevor Bauer are also scheduled to pitch for the Tribe.
Today's game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie.
For spring-training games, we'll have a first-pitch thread at game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today's game, that will be 2 p.m. CT and 3:30 p.m. CT. These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page. They will also appear in this StoryStream™. The pitcher box and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.
Discuss amongst yourselves.