James Russell Removed From The Rotation


Both Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are inching closer to returning to the starting rotation for the Chicago Cubs. Wells and Cashner reported to Arizona today to further progress their rehab assignments. The plan is for both pitchers to pitch a simulated game in Arizona before making one rehab start–presumably with the Iowa Cubs. With that said, Cubs fans will soon no longer have to fear for the last two spots in the rotation. There already is reason to celebrate for the last two spots in the rotation as manager Mike Quade finally made a long awaited move last night.

Quade announced last night that temporary fifth starter James Russel has been removed from the starting rotation and will go back to being a left handed specialist out of the bullpen. Quade will be going with a four man rotation for the time being, but the Cubs will need a fifth starter next weekend when they play the San Francisco Giants.

The first candidate and perhaps most likely is veteran starting pitcher Doug Davis. Davis is beginning his minor league rehab assignment this week when he starts for the Peoria Chiefs on Thursday. From there, Davis will make one more start with the Iowa Cubs next week–he would be scheduled to start next Tuesday. Creating the opportunity for Davis to start the May 14th or May 15th game for the Cubs against the San Francisco Giants.

Keep in mind that Davis has the opportunity to opt out of his contract with the Cubs if he is not with the major league team by May 30. But it would appear that the Cubs plan to bring Davis to the majors either next week or the following week.

Another option that may have gone forgotten is Todd Wellemyer. If it was not for a hip injury that Wellemyer sustained at the end of Spring Training, Wellemyer would have already been with the major league team considering the injuries to Wells and Cashner. Wellemyer has fully recovered from his hip injury and completed his extend Spring Training assignment. Wellemyer will make his first start of the season with the Iowa Cubs on Thursday. Meaning that like Davis, Wellemyer would be on a pitching schedule that would allow him to start a game for the Cubs during the weekend series against the San Francisco Giants.

Whoever the new fifth starter will be, they likely will make two starts at the major league level before Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner return from their injuries.