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Living The Dream

CHICAGO–Thanks to Joe Borowski’s feats and Sammy Sosa’s foot, Todd Wellemeyer became a member of the Cubs May 11.

The 24-year-old righthander took Sosa’s spot on the 25-man roster when the superstar right fielder went on the disabled list after having his big right toenail removed.

The Cubs had a chance to dig into their farm system and bring up another outfielder or position player. But they were beginning a 20-games-in-20-days stretch and needed another arm.

Because Borowski, projected in spring training as a long reliever, was enjoying early success as a closer, the Cubs needed a long reliever. Wellemeyer got the callup and left Triple-A Iowa on a road trip in Albuquerque.

"I would have run here from Albuquerque if I had to," said Wellemeyer, who was 1-1, 2.77 in three games for the I-Cubs before joining the parent squad. He entered this season as the system’s No. 10 prospect.

Back problems slowed his progress slightly in 2002, as he was 2-4, 3.79 with high Class A Daytona and 3-3, 4.70 for Double-A West Tenn. But the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder impressed the brass in spring training and has sharpened his mid-90s fastball, changeup and slider.

"He’s shown us everything and done everything we asked," Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita said. "No one expected Joe (Borowski) to take over the closer’s role like he did, and we needed a long and middle relief man. He’s done well at every level. He’s a big, strong, square-shouldered kid who is quite a specimen."

Wellemeyer, a fourth-round pick in the 2000 draft out of Bellarmine (Ky.) University, made 67 minor league appearances–all starts–before the big callup.

The Louisville native grew up a Cubs fan and told friends and family members he didn’t care what round he was selected in as long as he was picked by the Cubs.

"My grandfather (Leon Wellemeyer) was a huge Cubs fan his entire life, and he helped me become a Cubs fan," Wellemeyer said. "He’s in his 80s and he’s one of the first people I called when I was called up."

Cubbyhole

• Double-A West Tenn closer Jason Karnuth, who had five saves and a 3.60 ERA, was promoted to Triple-A Iowa. He was replaced on the Diamond Jaxx’s roster by high Class A Daytona’s closer, Travis Anderson.

• West Tenn activated righthander T.P. Waligora after he missed all of 2002 season after Tommy John surgery. Waligora was 4-1, 3.48 for West Tenn in 2001.

• Previous organization report: Hee Seop Choi

 
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