CUBS WILL PENCIL Q INTO PEN
Quintana will come off IL today, take unfamiliar relief role — at least for now
After nearly two months of rehab following surgery on his left thumb, left-hander Jose Quintana is set to make his return. The Cubs will activate Quintana from the 10-day injured list Tuesday.
Right-hander Tyler Chatwood (back) also will come off the IL on Tuesday and will start against the Tigers. The Cubs’ plan is to use Quintana out of the bullpen, at least for the time being. He has been sidelined since July 2 after cutting the sensory nerve in his left thumb.
‘‘I’m really, really happy to be back,’’ Quintana said. ‘‘I’ve [been] working hard to be back as soon as possible. I know it’s taken me a little time, but now I feel ready to do my job. Whatever role I get, I’m just happy to be there. I know I go to the bullpen tomorrow and then just want to help.’’
‘‘He’s been stretched out, so we’ve got some length in the pen with him down there,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘Then just as he builds up, we’ve got some doubleheaders coming up. We’ll kind of navigate that [with] who’s pitching well and just kind of take that as it goes. We understand he’s a starting option for us moving forward if we need that.’’
The new role will be an adjustment for Quintana, who has made only four relief appearances in his eight-year career. His last came on Opening Day of 2019 in a four-inning effort in relief of right-hander Yu Darvish.
Quintana’s other three relief appearances came during his rookie season with the White Sox in 2012.
Even though Quintana hasn’t been asked to be strictly a reliever in eight years, he knew that a relief role might be in the works and tried to prepare for it while at the Cubs’ alternate site in South Bend, Indiana.
‘‘The last few times . . . I focused on coming out of the bullpen,’’ Quintana said. ‘‘Got into situations with runners on first and second, different situations, and worked on that. It was good.
‘‘It’s different when you come [out of] the bullpen, but I’ve been in that role before a couple of times. It’s OK. I’m just focused on doing my job well, and what I did in South Bend gave me that time to make preparations for coming out of the bullpen.’’
The addition of Quintana will provide some help for reliever Kyle Ryan, who is the only left-hander in the Cubs’ bullpen. Ross said he’ll try to use Quintana to pitch in multiple-inning situations, when possible.
‘‘I’m going to try to do that,’’ Ross said. ‘‘I’m going to try to get him a clean inning. Let him get up and have time to start that. I’m not going to bring him in in the middle of traffic — or I’m going to try not to. That’s not my thought. The goal is to give him a clean inning and let him get some length.
‘‘I also have an obligation to the game and the team to do what’s best for the team. So balancing that is my job, but I’d like to give him some length there, for sure.’’
Left-hander Jose Quintana hasn’t pitched this season after cutting the sensory nerve in his pitching thumb in an accident July 2.