Ryan’s im­mi­nent ar­rival brings smile to Ross’ face

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY STEVE GREEN­BERG, STAFF REPORTER sgreen­berg@sun­times.com @SLGreen­berg

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.’’

Lester sight­ing

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.

MATTHEW STOCKMAN/GETTY IMAGES

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.

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