With Tuesday night's game against the Padres getting rained out, Cubs manager Mike Quade had some decisions to make about his pitching staff.
The two teams will play a split doubleheader Wednesday, with Game 1 starting at 1:20 p.m. (CSN) and Game 2 beginning at 6:05 p.m. (CSN-plus). The games are separate admissions, and tickets from Tuesday are good for the second game.
Quade will go with right-hander Matt Garza in Game 1 and lefty James Russell in Game 2. Bullpen considerations played a part in the order, but Tuesday's forced day off and Thursday's scheduled off-day help a little.
"Given the situation, you run the guy who can give you pitches out there first and see what you're left with for Game 2," Quade said. "A split double can be tough bullpen wise, but with an off-day (Tuesday) and an off-day Thursday, given the situation, it puts us in really good shape."
Russell made his first major-league start last Tuesday and lasted just 1 innings, throwing 55 pitches.
Wells, Cashner to throw:
The Cubs said Tuesday that injured pitchers Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner had improved and that both will begin throwing programs Friday and then be evaluated at the end of the homestand, next Wednesday. There is no timetable for either pitcher to return to the rotation.
Both went on the disabled list April 8. Wells has a strained right forearm, and Cashner has a strained right rotator cuff.
"Pretty good," Wells said. "We went out and threw (Monday) just trying to get a gauge of where I'm at. I still feel it very mildly. But I think with the treatment we've been doing, I should be ready to go."
It's most likely that both pitchers would make at least 1 minor-league rehab start apiece before returning to the rotation. Wells said it was good just to play catch Monday.
"It felt good to be a baseball player again," he said. "I've been kind of a cheerleader the last two weeks. It's nice to put the spikes on and get out there."
Tuesday night's game was called about 3:30 p.m. even though the weather was brutal all day and looking bad. Because this is the Padres' only trip to town, the Cubs said they had to consult with them and with Major League Baseball. The Padres play at home Thursday, so a split doubleheader isn't ideal for them. Hence, discussions went long into the afternoon.
Pena uses the bunt:
Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena is paid to hit home runs. He has not hit one yet, but he did bunt for a basehit in the seventh inning Monday night.
Opposing teams put a shift on the left-handed pull hitter, and Pena foiled it with the bunt.
"I don't know if it's a secret weapon, but I just think that there are going to be times where it's the smart thing to do, to try," Pena said Tuesday. "Even though mine doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be past the pitcher, but it's still a challenge for me.
"There will be times where I think it's just the right play. What they've been doing, with no strikes, they've been playing straight up. After a strike, they shift."
Pena hit two drives to right field Monday night, and one looked like it had a chance to go. In the ninth, he hit a fly to left that might have been out had the wind not been blowing in.
"Oh, yeah, I killed that ball; I crushed it," he said. "The wind can be very devastating. I thought yesterday I hit two balls that … I mean, I know I hit two balls that would have been homers.
"At the same time, I have to learn how to reward myself for making that kind of contact and know that that's where I want to be."
•Talk strategy and get a minor-league roundup at the Daily Herald's baseball blog, Chicago's Inside Pitch, at dailyherald.com. Follow Bruce Miles on Twitter @BruceMiles2112