Adbert Alzolay on making Cubs’ Opening Day roster: ‘It’s a huge step forward in my career’

Right-hander Adbert Alzolay will be the Cubs’ fifth starter to open the season.

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Adbert Alzolay will begin the season as the Cubs’ fifth starter, and he likely will see time in the rotation and the bullpen as the team closely monitors his innings.

Adbert Alzolay will begin the season as the Cubs’ fifth starter, and he likely will see time in the rotation and the bullpen as the team closely monitors his innings.

John Antonoff/Chicago Sun-Times

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Adbert Alzolay was speechless when he found out he made the Opening Day roster. Manager David Ross announced Saturday that the right-hander had made the team for the first time.

Even with a day to process the good news, it still hadn’t set in for Alzolay that when the Cubs head back to Chicago on Monday, he’ll be joining them.

“When he called me to the office, anytime you go into the office, you are kind of in-between because, right now, they have really hard decisions to make. But when he called me and told me, ‘Congrats, you made the roster,’ it just brought joy to me,’’ Alzolay said. ‘‘I was so happy I couldn’t say anything. The only thing that I could say back to him was that I was so happy to be getting this opportunity.”

Alzolay will begin the season as the fifth starter, and he likely will see time in the rotation and the bullpen as the team closely monitors his innings.

“I’m getting what I have worked for,” Alzolay said. “For me, it’s a huge step forward in my career. I feel that all the work that I’ve been putting in with all these guys here at the complex this past offseason and these years, I feel like that is paying off. Like I said before, [making the Opening Day roster] was my main goal. I wasn’t paying attention to everything that was talking around me. I didn’t put any of those thoughts in my mind.”

Alzolay has earned rave reviews around the organization this spring for his preparation and dedication to making himself the best pitcher he can be. Nobody has been a bigger advocate for Alzolay than veteran Jake Arrieta, who was as thrilled as anyone his mentee had cracked the rotation.

“It’s a tremendous honor to make an Opening Day roster, and for Alzolay to be in a rotation, [I’m] very happy for him,” Arrieta said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him and watching him grow. He’s nowhere near where he’s gonna be, and that’s a good thing.

“He’s in a great place, he’s only going to get better. He’s a tremendous student of the game. He prepares himself extremely well, and there’s still room to grow.”

Maybin gets minor-league deal

The Cubs signed outfielder Cameron Maybin to a minor-league deal Sunday. Maybin, 33, will report to the Cubs’ alternate site in South Bend, Indiana, to begin the season.

There wasn’t a spot for Maybin on the team’s Opening Day roster, and he was granted his release Saturday. But the organization holds Maybin in high regard for his professionalism and influence in the team’s clubhouse.

“When you get to have guys like that around your group and on your team, it’s a positive,” Ross said. “When I got the news this morning about that, I was super-excited. . . . He’s a breath of fresh air every time you see him. He’s a quality human being, great baseball player. He’s done a lot in this game seeing winning, seeing losing. He knows how to talk to young guys. He relates to a lot of different things. He’s played a lot of different roles.”

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