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Cubs starter Justin Steele exits start against Rays with ‘left forearm tightness’

12 months agoAndy Martinez

Justin Steele was perfect through 3 innings.

But something wasn’t quite right after an out in the 3rd inning, prompting a mound visit from head athletic trainer Nick Frangella and manager David Ross.

Steele stayed in the game, picking up the final two outs of the frame with some nifty defense by Patrick Wisdom, but was lifted after the inning.

“When he went back out there in the 3rd, I got word that he had a little bit of throbbing in the elbow, but didn’t feel it throwing, just as he was cooling down,” Ross said. “Radar went way up, obviously. Talked to the trainers, they felt comfortable, then watched him kinda pumping the hand and stretching the forearm a little bit and went out and checked on him. Said he didn’t feel it all, no tingling, no shot down the arm, anything like that, so I let him finish.”

Steele exited the game with left forearm tightness, per the Cubs. 

“It was just kinda tightening up on me and kinda like throbbing a little bit,” Steele said after the game. “Obviously wanted to keep competing and keep pitching stuff, but just for precautionary reasons, made sense not to push anything.”

Ross said Steele would undergo some imaging on Thursday, staying back in Chicago and then flying out to meet up with the team in San Diego after the testing was complete. 

“I’m really not to concerned about it,” Steele said. “I think it was more just precautionary.”

The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in 2017.  

It’s been a career year for Steele, who has firmly established himself as one of the premier starters in the National League so far this season. In 12 starts, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and struck out 58 in 68 innings of work. His ERA ranks him 9th in baseball and WHIP is 16th in MLB.

Hayden Wesneski came in relief of Steele in the 4th inning. The righty was recalled on Tuesday afternoon, with reliever Michael Rucker being optioned to Triple-A to make room on the roster. The hope was for Wesneski to pitch in relief and provide the Cubs with a length option.

If Steele can’t make his next start, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday in Anaheim. But Ross stressed it’s still too early to determine whether or not he’ll make that start. If he doesn’t, the Cubs could turn to Wesneski or Javier Assad, who is stretched out and has been in the major league roster for awhile.

“There’s a lot of moving parts that we’ve got some coverage, I feel like if we need to,” Ross said. “I don’t think anybody’s sounding any alarms at the moment.”

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