Cubs option Alfonso Rivas, DFA Cory Abbott to call up Mark Leiter Jr. vs. Rockies

The Cubs also selected the contract of Locke St. John and DFA’d Greg Deichmann.

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Cubs’ Mark Leiter Jr. started against the Rockies on Saturday, in his first major-league game since 2018.

Cubs’ Mark Leiter Jr. started against the Rockies on Saturday, in his first major-league game since 2018. File photo.

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DENVER – The Cubs made a pair of corresponding roster moves to put right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. on the roster before his start in a 9-6 loss to the Rockies on Saturday.

To open a spot on the active roster for Leiter, the Cubs optioned first baseman/outfielder Alfonso Rivas to Triple-A after the Cubs’ 6-5 loss at Coors Field on Friday. Rivas, who debuted last year, has recorded a hit in each of the games he’s appeared in this season, going 2-for-4.

“The first thing I say when those things happen is, ‘This sucks, for all of us,’” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It’s just part of the options game, when you’ve got to make a move for a pitcher. ... The guy swings the bat well, he’s very professional in his work, he’s a great defensive first baseman, gives you a quality at-bat every single time. He’s a winning player. I believe in him, he believes in himself. So, it’s just one of those, ‘Hey, go get some consistent at-bats. We’ll see you soon.’”

To make room for Leiter on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated right-hander Cory Abbott for assignment.

Leiter’s outing started off strong, has he retired seven of the first eight batters he faced. But the game got away from Leiter in the third inning.

He issued four walks in the third and fourth innings and gave up a 466-foot home run to C.J. Cron. Leiter left the game with one out in the fourth and was charged with seven runs on five hits.

“I think i just got into falling behind a little bit, maybe not pitching to my strengths as much as I was,” Leiter said. “They made some good adjustments, and I didn’t follow with that.”

Leiter’s start Saturday marked his first major-league game since 2018. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, and last year he pitched in the minors.

“A lot of emotion for the last couple years, a lot of adrenaline,” Leiter said. “And I’m proud to be back and get in a game like that, but I want to be better than that.”

In other roster news

The Cubs also acted on a clause in pitcher Locke St. John’s contract, adding him to the 40-man roster to keep him in the organization. They selected his contract from Triple-A and then optioned him to Iowa. He provides left-handed depth to the club.

To make room for St. John on the roster, the Cubs designated outfielder Greg Deichmann for assignment.

Injury updates

Cubs southpaw Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) threw off the mound on Saturday for the first time since the team shut him down in spring training. He tossed 15 pitches, and the Cubs will evaluate his recovery before determining next steps.

Right-hander Alec Mills (lower back strain) was scheduled to throw a bullpen Saturday in Arizona.

Both pitchers started the season on the 10-day IL, a blow to the Cubs’ rotation depth.

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