Shelby Miller hoping to find an opportunity with Cubs this spring
Miller opted out of the 2020 season. But with the Cubs in need of pitching depth, he’s hoping for a chance to contribute.
MESA, Ariz. — Getting through the 2021 season is going to be a battle of attrition for pitchers. After the shortened 60-game season in 2020, going back to 162 games will require keeping a closer eye on their workloads.
Cubs manager David Ross and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy already have talked about multiple guys making starts this season, in addition to the five who will be in the rotation.
Right-hander Shelby Miller has a chance to be one of those pitchers. Miller signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs this offseason and will be in the mix this spring.
‘‘What I’ve spent this whole offseason doing was trying to get back to, like, the old version of myself, where I had a little bit more life on my fastball,’’ Miller said. ‘‘I developed a slider that I think is going to be a huge pitch for me this year.
‘‘I’ve never really had an ‘out’ pitch that’s been an offspeed [pitch]. I used to throw a little loopy curveball that no one really swung at. It was more of, like, an 0-0 pitch. . . . But I never had something that was kind of nasty that people swung over the top of. It usually used to just be all fastballs. I was a fastball pitcher. But to have that [slider] this year is gonna help me a ton. I got a strikeout on it [Monday], so that’s a positive.’’
Miller opted out of last season after appearing in 19 games (eight starts) with the Rangers in 2019. And after using the extended time off to get healthy, he feels ready to contribute in a variety of ways, including a swingman role.
‘‘I was gonna come in as a starter, and we signed some guys, some great arms that [are] obviously needed in this rotation,’’ Miller said. ‘‘I wouldn’t mind that [swingman role] at all. Whatever my role is, however I can help.
‘‘I’ve always kind of tried to be a guy who can adapt to any situation. I’ve started most of my career, but . . . I’ve come out of the pen. So however I can help, I’d be more than willing to do that.’’
Tepera signing official
The Cubs made their re-signing of right-hander Ryan Tepera official.
Tepera, who signed a one-year deal last week, was one of Ross’ most trusted relievers last season. He was 0-1 with a 3.92 ERA in 21 appearances.
To make room for Tepera on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated right-hander Duane Underwood Jr. for assignment. Right-hander Robert Stock cleared waivers after being DFA’d on Sunday.