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Spring Training Notebooks

Cubs Spring Training Notebook: A rainy day, Javier Assad on fifth starter role and longtime staff member retires

1 year agoAndy Martinez

MESA, Ariz. — All Javier Assad wanted was a chance.

Now, he’s looking to make the most of that opportunity.

Last season at Triple-A Iowa and Double-A Tennessee, the Mexican righty posted a stellar 2.66 ERA in 23 games (21 starts) and hoped he could have a taste in the majors. But Assad wasn’t the flashiest of pitchers — he didn’t have wipeout stuff or blazing velocity. Instead, he stymied hitters with control and deception.

When injuries plagued the Cubs rotation, especially in the second half of 2022, Assad’s name wasn’t the first choice among fans or media. But the performances garnered a call up to the big leagues from the front office.

“Thanks to God, the opportunity came,” Assad said.

It was an eye-opening experience and one that he took advantage of, pitching to a 3.11 ERA in 9 games (8 starts).

“I learned a lot up there — how to better execute my pitches,” Assad said. “There’s a bit smaller of a margin for error because up there because the level is really good … my breaking pitches in the zone and be confident in them and keep going forward.”

This spring he has been presented with another opportunity — a chance to win the team’s fifth starter spot in the rotation. It’s a message that manager David Ross, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy and the rest of the staff presented to him heading into camp.

“I’m really happy that they gave me that opportunity,” Assad said. “I came with that in mind — to win a job in the big leagues.”

To give himself the best opportunity to win the job, Assad lost some weight this offseason and wants to take advantage of another chance, like he did last season.

“Work hard, enjoy the game and do my best every day and work hard and be focused,” Assad said. “That helped me a lot and having confidence in myself that I can do it.”

Longtime team doctor retires

The Cubs announced the retirement of head team physician and medical director, Dr. Stephen Adams on Tuesday.

“Doc Adams”, as he was affectionately known, joined the Cubs in the 1980s and served as the head team physician and medical director since 2000.

“Dr. Adams has had such a positive impact not only on the Chicago Cubs but also on the sport’s medical policies and guidelines,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said in a release. “His service, empathy and dedication to our organization and the game has benefited countless players, uniformed personnel and front office associates. We thank Dr. Adams for his many years of caring for our team, staff and families.”

Rain, rain go away

Tuesday was a light day at Sloan Park with rains sprinkling through the morning. 

Most of the work by the players was done indoors with the exception of a few live batting practices. Justin Steele and Caleb Kilian each threw 2 innings of live batting practice on Field 1. Steele showed that his offspeed pitch was nearing midseason form. 

 

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