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‘We’re building something’: Adbert Alzolay is ready for any role to help Cubs succeed

1 year agoAndy Martinez

Whenever he took the mound on his rehab assignment, Adbert Alzolay would close his eyes and begin visualizing.

“Imagine that I was in a big-league mound,” he said Friday before the Cubs’ series opener against the Rockies. “I would go through the motions in my mind.”

He’s one step closer to making his visions a reality. Alzolay is back with the big-league team and is expected to be activated at some point this weekend after missing the first 5 months of the season with a right lat strain.

“Excited to be back here with the team at Wrigley Field [and] around the guys,” Alzolay said. “It feels really good to be back.”

It’s the second time Alzolay went through a lat strain on his right side. He first suffered the injury in 2018 and made just 8 starts in the minors that year. He made it a point in his rehab to come back and pitch in the major leagues, no matter what point of the season that would be in.

“It was my main goal,” Alzolay said. “For me, it’s a huge takeaway because now we can go into the offseason with that clear mind that we’re fully healthy and we did pitch at the end of the year.”

His role the final few weeks of the season will be out of the bullpen and he’s ready for whatever the team needs. Alzolay was stellar for the Cubs in relief last season, posting a 1.40 ERA in 8 relief appearances in September.

He began 2021 in the Opening Day rotation and had a 5.16 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 21 starts.

“I think the biggest thing that I learned from the bullpen was to always stay aggressive,” Alzolay said. “When you have power pitches, when you know your pitches are sharp and this and that, you don’t have to be going around the hitter or try to set up hitters to go after them. You just go right away after them.”

Alzolay spoke with the Cubs as he neared a rehab assignment and the two sides determined that coming out of the bullpen would be the best course of action for him and the team.

“There’s two [and a half] weeks [left in] the season, as a starter you’re gonna get 3 outings,” Alzolay said. “Out of the bullpen you can get more repetitions there, you can be on the mound more often. For me, as soon as they told me that, I was happy with it.”

And proving he can pitch out of the bullpen in multiple inning bursts or in high leverage situations can be helpful to the Cubs.

“We’re building something. We’re trying to win. So for me if my role is best out of the bullpen, being a long guy, being a guy that can throw in the 8th or close a game or whatever, I feel like I have the weapons to do that,” Alzolay said. “I feel like there is a lot more options there and that allows the team to go and be aggressive during the offseason.”

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