Cubs' Mills ready to embrace versatile pitching role

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Alec Mills arrived at spring training to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. That didn't work out, but he's embraced his current role as a pitcher who can do a little bit of everything, including finishing off Monday's 5-3 victory.

    Alec Mills arrived at spring training to compete for a spot in the starting rotation. That didn't work out, but he's embraced his current role as a pitcher who can do a little bit of everything, including finishing off Monday's 5-3 victory. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/6/2021 8:30 PM

Alec Mills provided a solid example for keeping a good attitude when things don't go your way.

Late in spring training, Mills learned the disappointing news that he would not be in the starting rotation when the season began. Roughly a week later, he was on the mound earning Monday's save against the Brewers.

 

"That was probably my first real save," Mills said before Tuesday's game. "The first one was like a three-inning save in a blowout (with the Cubs in 2019). Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Obviously to have the fans back was special and then after the second out for everyone to stand up was pretty surreal, pretty cool moment for me.

"Kind of had to sit down and calm down afterward. That's usually not the moment I'm in, but I feel like I can pitch in that moment. Hopefully that was a step in the right direction."

Manager David Ross called on Mills to hold the 5-3 lead because closer Craig Kimbrel had pitched the previous two days. Mills isn't the type of hard thrower usually associated with closing, but he can impose a different set of problems for hitters.

"I think it's more or less that I can throw the kitchen sink at them," Mills said. "You may see five different pitches in an at-bat from me."

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Mills was inconsistent last season in his first run as a full-time starter in the major leagues. When he was on his game, he was real good, as evidenced by his no-hitter in Milwaukee on Sept. 13.

But he wasn't especially sharp in spring training, the Cubs had too many starters and someone had to take on the swing role in the bullpen.

"I'm not going to lie, it didn't feel great," Mills said. "At the same time, I think Berty (Adbert Alzolay) is more than ready to have success and more than ready to help us win. Kind of walked out of the meeting, maybe took the rest of the day, and then the next day, it's a new day.

"I'm still playing baseball and still with the Chicago Cubs. It's still a lot of fun to play with these guys every day. I'm never going to take anything for granted. This is a new role for me, but I'm more than happy to do it and hopefully I can flourish in it."

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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