Cubs Don't Want To Rush Young Arms
CHICAGO—Midway through spring training, the Cubs seemed set for starting pitching. But a chain reaction triggered by Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner winning the last two spots in the big league rotation left general manager Jim Hendry searching for starters in April.
The Cubs found themselves short-handed when Wells (strained forearm) and Cashner (strained rotator cuff) went on the disabled list after making one start apiece. They signed 37-year-old Ramon Ortiz and 35-year-old Doug Davis to minor league contracts in the aftermath of those events. "We're doing what you should do—accumulating some guys down in the system," Hendry said.
Hendry hopes that Ortiz and Davis can join Casey Coleman in giving Mike Quade enough starting pitching depth so that he can avoid shifting Jeff Samardzija and Chris Carpenter from bullpen roles and damaging the development of Trey McNutt, Rafael Dolis and Alberto Cabrera, who opened the season with Double-A Tennessee.
"We've got some very good prospects at Double-A we don't want to rush along," Hendry said.
McNutt created buzz in 2010, and Hendry has mentioned both McNutt and Cabrera as guys who could help the Cubs in the second half of this season. Dolis, whom Hendry did not specifically mention in that reference, is advancing in lockstep with Cabrera.
Both Dolis and Cabrera are powerfully built righthanders from the Dominican Republic. They were signed by signed by Jose Serra, whose list of recent credits is topped by Starlin Castro, and have advanced slowly through the farm system.
Dolis, signed as a 16-year-old in 2004, has became a highly regarded prospect since missing 2008 after Tommy John surgery. Originally signed as a shortstop, he showcased a fastball that touched 101 mph in instructional league after the 2009 season, and last year split time between high Class A Daytona and Tennessee. He had a 1.80 ERA after his first two starts in 2011, striking out 10 in 10 innings.
Cabrera, signed in 2005, battled shoulder and elbow injuries in 2008 and 2009, when he was assigned to low Class A Peoria, but followed Dolis in making the jump from Daytona to Tennessee last season. He pitches in the mid-90s, and like Dolis, continues working to improve his secondary pitches and his command. He had a 4.50 ERA in his first two starts of 2011, striking out 10 in 10 innings.
• Righthander Jay Jackson, who spent 2010 at Triple-A, was sidelined with a strained elbow at the start of the season, eliminating him from consideration for big league vacancies.
• First baseman John Urick, a grandson of Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog, is serving as a player-coach for Daytona.