Cubs add prospect Justin Steele to big-league bullpen
For the third time in the last week, the Cubs are making a swap in the bullpen.
Left-handed pitching prospect Justin Steele was called up to Wrigley Field ahead of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Pirates. In a corresponding move, the Cubs placed right-handed pitcher James Norwood on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation.
Steele, 25, has not pitched above the Double-A level and is on a major-league roster for the first time in his career. He had built up to a starter’s workload at the alternate training site in South Bend, but the Cubs will utilize Steele out of the bullpen.
“We’ll see what role exactly transpires for him,” David Ross said. “We’re just happy he’s here. It’s a big day for him and his family and it’s an exciting time.”
Steele spent all of last season with the Tennessee Smokies, where he went 0-6 with a 5.59 ERA, striking out 42 batters in 38.2 innings. The Cubs have liked his stuff for a while and the reports out of South Bend this summer have been positive.
“He made an impression on me in spring training just with the swings the hitters took off him,” Ross said. “When he’s in the zone, the ball seems to jump out of his hand — the hitters don’t seem to pick it up too much. He’s been tinkering with his slider in South Bend and that seems to be playing well.
“I’ll read those reports about South Bend when they send them in each night. His name kept popping up of a guy that’s trending in the right direction, that’s competing his tail off in that environment and we try to reward guys for that around here. We’ll give him his first shot at big-league baseball and see how it goes.”
As for Norwood, he last pitched Wednesday in Cincinnati and he had some “crankiness” in his shoulder while warming up in the bullpen that night, Ross said.
Over the last few days, Norwood has thrown a couple bullpens but has still felt the same issues when cooling down, so the Cubs are taking the cautious route for now with the 26-year-old reliever.