Cahill traded return to starting for fun, comfort of Cubs bullpen

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Trevor Cahill started and threw two scoreless innings in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Reds.

MESA, Ariz. – Trevor Cahill found a comfort zone with the Cubs last year, wants to be part of that first team to break through the 100-year thing and had personal motivation for wanting to return as a free agent and train near home in the Phoenix area, where his wife gave birth last month.

But that two-year offer his pitching coach said in January that he turned down to take a one-year, 4.25 million deal from the Cubs? Like most of the hype surrounding this team this spring, it’s a little exaggerated.

Two-year deal? “Not that I’m aware of,” said Cahill, who made his spring debut Saturday with two scoreless innings in a start against the Reds in Mesa. “Some of that stuff wasn’t entirely accurate.”

The division-rival Pirates did make him an offer similar to the Cubs offer, with the added assurance he would be part of their starting rotation.

But the former All-Star starter said almost every other factor he could think of led him back to a desire to return to Chicago – where he said the success he found in the Cubs bullpen after his release from the Braves was no accident.

“I was just like, `If I’m comfortable, and I have at least a chance to start, then if I’m going to pitch good enough to start I’ll start,’ “ he said. “If not I’ll be in the bullpen where I was comfortable last year.

“I think last year I pitched good just because I had fun and was comfortable,” added Cahill, who still identifies as a full-time starting pitcher long-term but for now says he’s ready to spot start or pitch anywhere else the Cubs need. “I felt like [returning] would just give me the best chance to succeed.”

No ‘i’ in Montero?

With five hits in his first five at-bats of the spring, catcher Miguel Montero has the early lead for the Cactus League batting title – which comes with an iPad awarded to the winner.

“Oh, really?” Montero said, quickly dismissing the idea. “Cactus League doesn’t mean anything.”

Besides, he already has two iPads, he said.

What he’d rather have is a few of his opposite-field singles in his back pocket at the end of camp, he said: “I really don’t want to get those bloopers right now. I want to save it for the season.”

Quotable

After downplaying the spectacular catch he made on a deep drive to the left-field gap Saturday, center field prospect Albert Almora said of his fielding approach:

“It’s hard [to contribute] offensively at times, but defensively I feel like I should be perfect. I’m not happy if I don’t have a perfect season on defense. I know it’s a crazy thing to say, but that’s just the way I am.”

Notable

Manager Joe Maddon’s second annual “Respect Bald” head-shaving event to benefit pediatric cancer research raised $29,000 Saturday. Maddon, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber were among the Cubs who got bald for the cause.


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