Ryan’s imminent arrival brings smile to Ross’ face
Cubs manager David Ross was excited. How excited? So excited he raised both fists in the air and shook them — gently, but still — while sharing the news in a video conference with reporters.
‘‘We’re getting him out of Florida!’’ Ross said, smiling widely. ‘‘He’s coming!’’
Lefty reliever Kyle Ryan, that is. Somewhere along the way, Ryan became a really big deal. The Cubs see him as one of the backbone pieces of their bullpen, for sure.
Ryan is late to camp because of what the Cubs have termed ‘‘protocol technicalities’’ and a ‘‘process-based’’ testing delay. He has kept up with his throwing program in Florida and is expected to arrive Thursday in Chicago, where he will begin the intake screening process. He has a chance to be on the field with his teammates by the end of the week.
If Ross’ positive instincts about his bullpen are on the money, Ryan, 28, will pick up where he left off last season, when he posted a 3.54 ERA in 73 appearances. He remains one of the true success stories of the Cubs’ pitch lab, which helped him find a new lease on life after flaming out in the Tigers’ organization.
Ryan isn’t taking anything for granted.
‘‘I fought from Day 1 until my last day in all my big-league camps, not knowing if I had a spot until I got on a plane to go to that certain city,’’ he said during spring training in Arizona. ‘‘And that’s the mentality.’’
Left-hander Jon Lester, who is coming around a bit more slowly than some other members of the starting rotation, threw live batting practice and had one good ‘‘inning’’ before struggling with pitching from the stretch after retaking the mound for another.
‘‘As we ramp this thing up and get him in live competition, all that stuff will fall in place,’’ Ross said. ‘‘He’s a professional, been doing it a long time.’’
This and that
The Cubs gave first baseman Anthony Rizzo a second consecutive day to rest his stiff back, which Ross characterized as simply ‘‘using caution.’’ Rizzo might be back Thursday evening, when the Cubs hope to get in a five- or six-inning intrasquad game.
Reliever Brandon Morrow was released from his minor-league deal. He hasn’t appeared in a majorleague game since July 15, 2018.
Hernan Perez, a utility player who was a non-roster invitee at spring training in Arizona, was added to the 60-man player pool, bringing the Cubs’ total to 51 players working out at Wrigley or in South Bend, Indiana.
During the intrasquad game Tuesday — with Rizzo sidelined — usual catchers Josh Phegley and P.J. Higgins played first base on opposite sides and shared a glove. Ross was asked if that was, according to health and safety protocols, a no-no.
‘‘I did see that,’’ he said. ‘‘We talked about it, and that’s been addressed. There was an issue with Rizz. I was assured that things were sanitized.’’
Still, it probably shouldn’t happen again.
Lefty reliever Kyle Ryan, who had a 3.54 ERA in 73 appearances last season, has been stuck in Florida but is expected to arrive in Chicago today.