Cubs’ Justin Steele returns from paternity list, will start Wednesday vs. Orioles

In a corresponding move, the Cubs optioned reliever Anderson Espinoza to Triple-A.

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Cubs left-hander Justin Steele and his fiancée welcomed their first child into the world on Monday.

Cubs left-hander Justin Steele and his fiancée welcomed their first child into the world on Monday.

AP Photos

Cubs left-hander Justin Steele had barely slept. He’d traveled straight from the hospital to Wrigley Field. And he couldn’t stop smiling about the birth of his son.

“It was crazy,” Steele recounted Tuesday. “I just started crying. It was the greatest day in my life.”

He was still wearing his hospital wristband.

“I did not want to leave,” he said.

The clubhouse was buzzing in response to Steele’s return from the paternity list. Steele’s fiancee, Libby Murphy, gave birth to their first child Monday, which also happened to be Steele’s 27th birthday.

“Best birthday present I could ever have,” he said. “He’s just amazing. Beautiful baby. Just glad he’s healthy and glad that Libby’s healthy.”

Steele is slated to start Wednesday in the second game of a two-game series against the Orioles at Wrigley. To make room on the active roster, the Cubs optioned reliever Anderson Espinoza to Triple-A Iowa.

Steele’s start had been pushed back for the birth. After throwing 6 ⅔ innings of one-run ball in Milwaukee on the Fourth of July, he headed back to Chicago to be with Murphy in case the baby came early. When the team headed to the West Coast to face the Dodgers, he stayed behind.

“I didn’t want to be across the country and then [have] her go into labor or something, and then while I’m flying I miss the whole thing,” he said.

After baby boy Steele — the couple is still deciding on a name — arrived, Steele had to leave the hospital briefly that afternoon to throw a bullpen session. He drove to Wrigley, then right back.

Fellow starting pitcher Marcus Stroman beelined to Steele’s locker Tuesday to ask about the family. Steele pulled out his phone to scroll through photos, then did the same as he passed veteran reliever David Robertson’s locker a little while later.

Robertson, who returned home for the birth of his third child during spring training, has been giving Steele advice here and there for the last few months, as have other fathers in the locker room.

“It’s amazing,” said third baseman Patrick Wisdom, whose youngest daughter is about a year old. “I still remember it like it was yesterday. So it’s just sharing the emotions, those feelings that arise, and just to see how excited and elated he is to show me pictures of his newborn. It’s just awesome. It gives me goosebumps right now because it’s so special.”

Steele’s line of work comes with its special challenges for new fathers. Players can

stay on the paternity list for a maximum of three days.

Steele hoped to get back to the hospital Tuesday night, then get a good night’s sleep in his own bed before his start Wednesday.

“That stuff takes you back to your own memories of your own kids,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “And especially in-season births and stuff like that. Really unique. So happy for him and his [fiancée]. We’ll be happy to get him back, too, tomorrow.”

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