White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease gears up to face Cubs, who traded him in 2017
Cease always imagined pitching at Wrigley Field after the Cubs drafted him, but not in a White Sox uniform, of course. On Sunday, he will face the Cubs for the first time.
Right-hander Dylan Cease always imagined pitching at Wrigley Field after the Cubs drafted him, but not in a White Sox uniform, of course.
On Sunday, he will face the Cubs for the first time in a challenging matchup against right-hander Yu Darvish.
‘‘This is one of the most historic parks around,’’ Cease, 24, said Saturday. ‘‘You can almost feel it when you’re here. It really is something special, so it’s . . . pretty mind-blowing that I get to do it. I’m excited for [Sunday], and hopefully we can pull one out.’’
Cease was the Cubs’ top pitching prospect (at Class A South Bend) when they traded him to the Sox with outfielder Eloy Jimenez and two lower-level prospects for left-hander Jose Quintana three years ago. Jimenez hit a game-winning home run in his first game at Wrigley last season, and he homered again in a 10-1 victory Friday to open the series.
‘‘If I can do anything similar to what he’s done against them, we’ll be in a good spot,’’ Cease said.
Cease said he hasn’t hit his stride this season despite good numbers. He is 4-1 with a 3.16 ERA, including a 1.90 ERA in his last four starts.
In 14 starts as a rookie in 2019, he was often hurt by one bad inning and didn’t command his stuff well enough to avoid high pitch counts. His 10 strikeouts per nine innings were the most by a rookie in Sox history, but he posted a hefty 5.79 ERA.
Cease has struck out six batters per nine innings this season, but he has been more efficient since getting roughed up for four runs and seven hits in 2„ innings in his first start.
‘‘I haven’t necessarily executed that well, but I’ve done a good enough job to keep us in it, which is important,’’ he said.
Perhaps on Sunday, he’ll flash back to July 13, 2017, the day he was traded to the Sox.
‘‘I had been scratched a couple of times leading up to that, so everyone was kind of just joking, like, ‘Yeah, you’re getting traded,’ ’’ Cease said. ‘‘I don’t know if any of us were really taking it seriously.
‘‘Then I got the call . . . so I packed up my apartment and went to the field, packed up my stuff and then drove down to somewhere in South Carolina to meet my new team. The biggest thing was really just how quick it happened. In the blink of an eye, I was in a new organization, on a new team.’’
In good hands with Mendick
Manager Rick Renteria said top second-base prospect Nick Madrigal (separated shoulder) has been a full participant at the Sox’ alternate site in Schaumburg.
‘‘He’s moving well,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘He’s swinging the bat and still trying to get his timing.’’
Meanwhile, Danny Mendick has more than held his own at second with Madrigal and Leury Garcia (thumb surgery) down with injuries. He has provided sound defense and was batting .313 with four extra-base hits and four RBI (through Friday) since Madrigal separated his shoulder.
This and that
Outfielder Nicky Delmonico was optioned to Schaumburg to make room on the roster for right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, who came off the injured list and started Saturday.
• Right-hander Ian Hamilton (shoulder) was reinstated from the IL and optioned to Schaumburg.