‘Not going to stop me’: Cubs’ Brad Wieck ready for spring training months after heart surgery

Cubs pitcher Brad Wieck underwent two heart procedures in less than two years.

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Cubs pitcher Brad Wieck underwent a heart procedure for atrial fibrillation in August. Now, he says he’s ready for spring training.

Cubs pitcher Brad Wieck underwent a heart procedure for atrial fibrillation in August. Now, he says he’s ready for spring training.

Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs left-hander Brad Wieck flicked his glove, signaling to his catcher that a breaking ball was coming. He brought his hands together, squinted at the mitt under the sun, ready to stride down the artificial turf mound. 

Six months ago, Wieck underwent heart surgery for atrial fibrillation, but on Tuesday, he said, “everything feels great.” 

The Cubs’ 6-foot-8 lefty reliever is training this week at Bell Bank Park, where the Major League Baseball Players Association reserved fields and facilities for players to work out during the lockout. Wieck threw a bullpen session Tuesday, rotating through with fellow Cubs pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Justin Steele. 

“It stinks right now that we’re locked out,” Wieck said in a conversation with the Sun-Times. “But at least with this alternate site, we can be around some guys that are doing the same thing that we’re doing, with the same goal.”

Wieck acknowledged he is measuring his excitement about his progress in his health because he’s been through this before. 

“At the same time, I’ve had a couple health scares, and I’ve come back from all of them,” he said “So, I just had that mentality of, it’s not going to stop me.” 

In February 2020, Wieck underwent a cardiac ablation procedure to address an atrial flutter. He pitched in a big-league game in late July but then landed on the IL with a hamstring strain.

The next summer, Wieck threw in 15 major-league games before landing on the injured list in July with an irregular heartbeat. His second procedure required a longer recovery. 

“This one, they had to poke a hole in my heart and go to the left side of my heart,” he explained.  “So, they had to put me on three months of blood thinners so I wouldn’t develop a blood clot in my heart.” 

The surgery itself was minimally invasive. Wieck’s cardiologist told him that a decade ago, his same condition would have required open heart surgery. 

Now, Wieck’s schedule has him throwing two bullpens a week. Asked when was the earliest he could be ready for spring training after MLB announces the end of lockout, Wieck had his answer before the end of the question:

“Tomorrow.”

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