Homepage Header Feb 23

Cubs News

‘I was speechless’: How Hayden Wesneski found out — and celebrated — that he was in Cubs’ rotation

11 months agoAndy Martinez

MESA, Ariz. — Hayden Wesneski and his parents had planned a belated celebration for his mom’s birthday on Thursday night.

Her birthday was Monday, but they were in town to watch Wesneski pitch, so they decided to commemorate the day a little late by going out to dinner.  Only Wesneski had a nice surprise gift for her: he had made the Opening Day roster and was in the starting rotation for the Cubs.

Wesneski had gotten the news earlier in the day, after his outing against the Diamondbacks. Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy went up to him and told them they needed to talk about his upcoming schedule as camp winded down and then they walked into David Ross’ office.

“Tommy kinda caught me off guard,” Wesneski said.

There, the pair told him the news he had been working towards all spring.

“You just don’t know what to say,” Wesneski said. “I wish I had something better for you, but I just didn’t talk a whole lot. I was speechless.”

It was a welcome shift for Hottovy. Throughout spring, he’s the one that would go up to a pitcher in the clubhouse, to let them know they needed to go to Ross’ office to be demoted.

“We definitely cherish those moments,” Hottovy said. “But we also know that there’s so much uncertainty in this game, so many things can change over the years. So we don’t take those things for granted. Guys work hard and they appreciate that. But I also know this is just the beginning. And we have a lot of things we want to accomplish this year.”

That’s the important thing for Wesneski. This isn’t the finish line — if it’s a race, the warmups are just wrapping up. He enjoyed the news, but he’s also gearing up for the season, to continue to perform at the level that he’s been at this spring.

“You can take a little breath and kind of get your thoughts together, but it’s time to go,” Hottovy said. “It’s not time to back off now because we’re leaving Arizona. It’s time to finish strong and put ourselves in the right frame of mind so when we hit the ground running once the season starts, we’re where we need to be.”

For Wesneski, that frame of mind is almost negative.

Earlier in camp, he alluded to feeling like he didn’t belong in the conversation for the fifth starter job — not that he necessarily believed that, though.

“That’s just the way I look at it and it gets my head in the right spot,” Wesneski said. “I’m not saying that it’s true or not true. It’s just one of those things where it keeps me in the right headspace cause all this stuff can get very distracting and I gotta remember that I have to throw a baseball over the plate, ultimately.”

He’ll get to do that at some point over the first five games of the season. Ross has yet to name the order following Marcus Stroman on Opening Day. In the past, he’s alternated between righties and lefties, so he could go Stroman, then Drew Smyly or Justin Steele in Game 2, Jameson Taillon in game 3, the other lefty in game 4 and Wesneski in the fifth game.

Regardless of when or where he pitches, he’ll be on the Opening Day roster for the first time in his life. Something that seemed impossible just a few months ago, when he was pitching in Triple-A for the New York Yankees. It’ll be a moment he’ll always cherish — and a heck of a birthday present, for his mom, too.

“I’m in a lot different situation than I was 6 months ago,” Wesneski said. “Yes, it’s been crazy. It’s been nuts. I thought I’d be in Tampa [the Yankees’ Spring Training site] right now. To see where I’m at at this moment, it’s just mind-blowing.”

Don’t Miss Out On The Action!

Sign up for the Marquee Sports Network Newsletter today for all the latest Cubs news, plus upcoming Marquee programming and much more!

Newsletter Signup
Consent *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.