PEORIA, Ariz. (MCT) — Whether Randy Wells was given a fair shot to make the Cubs’ roster didn’t really matter after the veteran starter was demoted to Triple-A Iowa Thursday morning at HoHoKam Stadium.
After failing to live up to his 2009 promise the last two years, the new management deemed Wells expendable despite his $2.7 million salary.
“Usually when this stuff happens, you’ve had a rough spring or you really haven’t been pitching well,” Wells said. “I’ve thrown the ball well in a variety of different roles. I’m not going to sit here and lie and be the guy who says I’m not disappointed. I am.
“It’s a point in your career where you have to buckle down and you know what you want to do. Maybe it’s a wake-up call to (show) it’s not that easy to stay here.”
The Cubs cut their roster to 31 with several cuts, including newcomer Travis Wood, another starting candidate who, unlike Wells, had no argument about the decision.
Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad enter the rotation in the Nos. 3 and 4 slots, respectively, while rookie Steve Clevenger beat out Welington Castillo in the battle of backup catchers.
After telling players they had been cut all morning, manager Dale Sveum was happy to get to tell utilityman Joe Mather he survived.
“That was nice, when most of your day is telling people they didn’t make the team,” Sveum said. “He’s a perfect fit for this team, having corner guys who are left-handed hitters and being able to play all the outfield positions, and he has played them all above average, as well as center field.”
With Blake DeWitt also told he had a spot, the Cubs have a handful of relievers left with two openings. Rodrigo Lopez, Manny Corpas, Frankie De La Cruz and Rule 5 Lendy Castillo remain, hoping to join Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, James Russell, Rafael Dolis and Shawn Camp.
Casey Coleman was told he would go to Iowa, but wasn’t officially optioned.
Wells, a Cubs starter since 2009, was asked if he was given a reason for his move.
“Not really,” he said. “Obviously it’s pretty cut and dry. Samardzija and Volstad threw the heck out of the ball, and the other (starting) spots were set. I thought I had a shot at the pen, but they had other ideas with me staying stretched out and being ready in case somebody needs me.”
General manager Jed Hoyer said Wells was considered for the long man role.
“But ultimately we feel like you’re going to get a lot of starts out of your sixth starter,” Hoyer said. “We’re not going to play with five starters all year. That’s not realistic. No one does that so we need his arm stretched out in Triple A to come up here. That was the message we delivered to him.”
Samardzija was ecstatic to get the rotation nod, but empathized with Wells.
“To get sent down, it’s tough,” he said. “It’s a hit, but a lot of times it’ll show you who you are. Whether you bounce back and keep fighting or if you just pack it in. You know, it’s a crossroads. But Randy will be fine. He throws a lot of strikes, (keeps) the ball down in the zone. He’s going to be a big part of this team this year.”