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Cubs historical sleuthing: A different type of sleuth

Instead of sleuthing a photo, in this installment, I’m sleuthing part of an article.

Photo by Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images

Normally, when you see a sleuthing article here, I give you a photo and try to identify when it was taken, and possibly ID the players in the photo if they’re not already.

This time, I was intrigued by a paragraph in this Paul Sullivan column in the Tribune posted Tuesday which was mostly about Antonio Brown and other players who had walked out on their teams.

The relevant paragraph, about when an athlete decides to leave his sport:

That moment comes for every athlete, though sometimes it’s less about lacking “the desire to compete” and more about reality hitting you squarely in the face. When the news hit Wrigley Field before a Cubs game in 2013 that a former teammate who had been traded and demoted to Triple A decided to retire after a rough outing, one of the Cubs pitchers quipped: “Retire from what?”

So, who could that demoted pitcher be?

I looked through Cubs rosters from 2012 and a couple of years prior and there’s only one player who fits this description, although he wasn’t “traded.”

That’s Randy Wells, who last pitched for the Cubs (and in the big leagues) in 2012. Wells left the Cubs as a free agent after that year and signed a minor-league deal with the Rangers. After posting a 4.50 ERA in five appearances (14 innings) for the Rangers in MLB Spring Training in 2013, Wells was assigned to their Triple-A team in Round Rock.

It did not go well for Wells there. He posted a 6.08 ERA and 1.859 WHIP in five starts. The worst of those was a 2⅔-inning outing on April 29 against, oddly enough, the Iowa Cubs. The I-Cubs lit Wells up for eight hits and seven runs.

The next day:

That’s gotta be it — retiring the day after a rough outing. Wells’ bb-ref page confirms that he “voluntarily retired” from the Rangers on April 30, 2013. Wells is pictured at the top of this post pitching for the Cubs in 2012.

A different sort of sleuthing exercise, to be sure, but I think I’ve got this figured out. What we’ll never know is the identity of the Cubs pitcher who made the quip quoted in Sullivan’s article.