CINCINNATI — The Cubs boosted their bullpen to nine pitchers Saturday by recalling Rowan Wick and Dillon Maples from Class AAA Iowa on the day they put starter Cole Hamels on the injured list.
They made room for the second pitcher by designating outfielder Carlos Gonzalez for assignment.
Hamels suffered a strained left oblique during Friday’s first inning and was unable to start the second. The left-hander was pitching like a potential All-Star this season, including a 2.98 season ERA — 1.22 in six June starts.
Gonzalez, who was signed for the prorated major-league minimum after being released by Cleveland a month ago, hit just .175 in 49 plate appearances for the Cubs, with one homer and a .606 OPS.
Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star during a long career with the Rockies, quickly became a clubhouse favorite upon joining the team, and the Cubs believe there’s a chance he might stay with the organization in the wings at AAA if he clears waivers.
“I’ve really gotten to like this guy quickly,” manager Joe Maddon said. “There’s a chance he might stick with us. Hopefully, that does occur.”
The Cubs needed relief reinforcements after four days of heavy bullpen use, including seven innings needed out of the pen Friday.
Maples in particular has been lights out his last six outings at AAA after one rough appearance when he got sent back to the minors three weeks ago.
“I went down there and pitched with a chip on my shoulder,” said Maples, who throws as hard as anyone on the staff and has a nasty slider.
Command has been the only thing keeping him from sticking in the majors. Maddon said the last time Maples was sent out that he told the right-hander he didn’t want to have that conversation with him again.
“I told him, `You’re too good; your stuff is that good that you should force us into keeping you here,’ “ Maddon said. “Hopefully, that moment’s arrived.”