Alec Mills is ready to take on any role for the Cubs
Alec Mills stepped out of David Ross’ office with a sense of disappointment.
Ross had just informed him that he wouldn’t be part of the Cubs’ Opening Day rotation. So, he went home and let the news marinate for a night.
“Not gonna lie, it didn’t feel great,” Mills said.
The next day he let the discontent go and focused on pitching — in whatever situation — for the Cubs.
“At the end of the day, I’m still playing baseball, I’m still with the Chicago Cubs,” Mills said. “This is a new role for me, but I’m more than happy to do it and hopefully I can flourish in it.”
It’s that type of mindset that gave Ross the belief that Mills could thrive in the bullpen, or any role, really, that Ross throws him in.
“He said when he left that meeting that he was gonna do whatever he could to help the team and that’s the type of player he is,” Ross said.
He showed that versatility Monday night.
Mills was brought in to close the game against the Brewers and did so in clean fashion, inducing a flyball to Avisaíl García, forcing Jackie Bradley Jr. to ground out and striking out Luis Urías to end it. It marked the second career save for Mills, who picked up a 3-inning save in the Cubs’ 17-8 win over the Pirates on Sept. 13, 2019.
“I know it sounds terrible but that was probably my first real save,” Mills said. “It was a lot of fun. Obviously to have the fans back was special. After the 2nd out, for everybody to stand up was a pretty surreal, pretty cool moment for me.
“Kinda had to sit down and calm down afterwards. It’s usually not the moment that I’m in, but I feel like I can pitch in that moment. Hopefully that was a step in the right direction last night.”
Both Mills and Ross know that this won’t be his role for the entire season. With the Cubs and all teams across major league baseball having to get creative in how they manage pitchers’ workloads in 2021, there’s a potential Ross could use Mills in multiple functions.
“He’s always ready,” Ross said. “He’ll get starts this year, I have no doubt about that. They’ll be space for that at some point this season. But right now, that’s the role we put him in, and he’s embraced it and comes in with a great attitude every single day and works his tail off and stays ready for moments like last night.”