The Cubs could have gone in several directions for a pitcher to start Saturday's day-night doubleheader against the Nationals.
The path they chose led them to right-hander Dallas Beeler, who will make his major-league debut in the day game. He officially will be recalled from Class AAA before the game. Because it is a doubleheader, the Cubs will be able to field the extra player and not send someone down.
Suffice to say Beeler was surprised.
"Of course, I figure you kind of have to be, especially the first time getting up here," the 25-year-old right-hander said Friday. "But I'm happy to be here and happy they chose me, and just kind of roll with it."
The Iowa Cubs have a solid rotation that also features Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Chris Rusin and veteran Tsuyoshi Wada, who was recently added to the 40-man roster.
"It's nice to have a number of options," said Cubs president Theo Epstein. "Bruce Walton is doing a really nice job as the pitching coach in Triple-A. A lot of those young kids are developing to a point where we'd be comfortable calling them up here.
"Kyle Hendricks is somebody that we also considered. He's not on the 40-man yet. His day (to pitch) didn't fall (Saturday). Eric Jokisch is pitching really well. Wada, we added to the roster. We liked the matchup with the right-handed pitcher, particularly a sinkerballer, a little bit better against the Nationals."
Beeler said he got advice from some of the players at Iowa.
"They just said go out and enjoy it and have fun," he said. "That's the best advice you can give. They said breathe. That was the big one from everybody. Just get out there, take it all in, take a deep breath."
Padding might have helped:
Outfielder Junior Lake was OK Friday after crashing into the steel door in right-center field Thursday night. Lake suffered bruises to his forehead and knee.
The Cubs said Lake exhibited no symptoms of a concussion. However, they said they might look into putting some kind of padding on the outfield doors.
"That's probably something we should talk about," Theo Epstein said. "The ivy does provide a little bit of a buffer on the brick. You're not going to put pads on the brick. Maybe on those doors, it's worth thinking about."
Manny era under way:
Former big-league slugger Manny Ramirez made his season debut Thursday night for Iowa, going 0-for-4 and reaching on an error in the second game of a doubleheader at Colorado Springs.
The Cubs signed the 42-year-old Ramirez to be a player-coach at Iowa. They say they have no plans to bring him to the major leagues.
"His goal is he wants to help young players," said Theo Epstein, who shared time in Boston with Ramirez. "He wants to give back to the game, in his words, to give back to the game that's done so much for him. I didn't believe it the first time I heard it, but after repeated conversations and talking to people who are around Manny day in and day out, he's definitely changed for the better."