Quin­tana will come off IL to­day, take un­fa­mil­iar re­lief role — at least for now

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - rdorsey@sun­ RUS­SELL DORSEY | @Russ_Dorsey1

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.

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