Cubs’ Hayden Wesneski on open rotation spot: ‘I’m trying to earn it’

Wesneski Adrian Sampson, Javier Assad and some non-roster invitees are competing for the fifth spot in the rotation.

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Cubs rookie Hayden Wesneski posted a 2.18 ERA in his first six major-league games last year.

Cubs rookie Hayden Wesneski posted a 2.18 ERA in his first six major-league games last year. File photo.

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MESA, Ariz. — Cubs rookie Hayden Wesneski was expecting the conversation when manager David Ross told him he was in the running for the fifth spot in the rotation coming out of spring training.

“We’re deep, we throw well,” Wesneski said Sunday. “And so I figured that the five-spot was up in the air, and I’m trying to earn it.” 

That confidence, which had him sure he’d compete for the spot, had helped him rise to the big leagues. And after posting a 2.18 ERA plus an immaculate inning in his first six major-league games, it certainly was merited.

This early in camp, however, the last rotation spot is far from decided. Adrian Sampson, Javier Assad and several non-roster invitees are also up for the job, Ross said. 

“You want to be given the chance, that’s it,” Wesneski said. 

The pitchers who don’t claim the spot likely will be sent to Triple-A as starting depth. 

The Cubs have introduced other young pitchers, such as Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson, to the big leagues primarily in relief roles and then increased their starts later in their development. For Wesneski, taking into account his profile and the Cubs’ wealth of multi-inning relievers, that isn’t the plan. 

“I really appreciate being a starter,” said Wesneski, who does have limited experience out of the bullpen. “Not even just for all the benefits. It’s just one of those things where it’s where I’ve been most comfortable. And it’s kind of just my personality.”

Reunited

Weeks before Edwin Rios’ signing was official, he told his former Dodgers teammate Cody Bellinger that he wanted to join the Cubs, too.

Bellinger told Rios how much he’d enjoyed his introduction to the organization since signing in December. Bellinger attended the Cubs Convention in January and had been working with the coaches at the spring-training complex. 

Rios remembers saying to him, “Hopefully I’ll see you in a couple weeks.”

They both hit free agency in November, when the Dodgers non-tendered them. Now they’re reunited in Cubs camp.

“It was a team full of All-Stars,” Rios said of the Dodgers. “It was just trying to find a way to get at-bats and perform when I got those opportunities. And sometimes injuries happen, and it stinks. But my biggest motto is control what I can control.”

Up next

Monday will be the first workout involving the full squad.

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