MILWAUKEE — A sore left oblique muscle that has bothered right-hander Jose Veras since last week gave the Cubs an opportunity to put the struggling reliever on the disabled list Saturday.
The Cubs recalled rookie right-hander Brian Schlitter from Class AAA Iowa to take Veras’ spot, giving the team three rookies in the bullpen.
With the move, the Cubs clear what essentially had been a dead roster spot while giving Veras a chance to clear his head after persistent struggles that go back to the start of spring training. The Cubs gave no timetable for his return.
“It gives you maybe a little distance from [the struggles],” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously, he feels he hasn’t done what he should be doing. Maybe it’ll clear his mind a little bit. Hopefully, he’s feeling physically better [too] and we can move forward.”
Veras, the highest-paid reliever in the bullpen at $4 million, said he began feeling something in the oblique while throwing on the side this past week. He didn’t believe it was worth reporting to the training staff until the day after another poor outing Thursday.
“The next day after that was the day that I said, ‘Oh, my God, it’s not just a little bit,’ ” Veras said of how he felt Friday morning. “I’ve got to take care of it. I can’t pitch better if I don’t get healthy.”
Veras, who has 10 walks, three hit batters and 10 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, lost his closer job the first week of the season.
As for whether the move can allow him to regroup mentally, Veras said, “Maybe. Who knows? At the same time, I don’t want to be in the position where I can’t help the team win ballgames. I want to help the team win. That’s why they brought me here, even though I’m struggling right now [through] five or six outings.
“I’m used to throwing 70 outings every year, so hopefully when I come back, I can start with [a clear] mind and be 100 percent healthy and get people out.”