Cubs send down Sampson, recall Velazquez
By MLB rule, the Cubs had to trim a pitcher from the roster on Monday. Unfortunately for Adrian Sampson, he was the player sent down, a day after an impressive performance against Atlanta.
Coming on in relief of Kyle Hendricks, Sampson gave up no runs and just 1 hit over 4⅔ innings on Sunday. The Cubs called up outfielder Nelson Velazquez.
"The conversation with Sampson was extremely difficult," manager David Ross told reporters before Monday's game in Pittsburgh. "The guy goes out there and saves your bullpen, saves the team; allows us to reset that bullpen with really one of the better performances I've seen him have and one of the better performances out of our bullpen.
"But he's probably down for three days. Can't use him and we're cutting down a pitcher. So at this moment in time we cannot afford to be short with no off-days coming up."
MLB decided before the season to cap the number of pitchers on the roster to 13. Because of the shortened spring training, the date was pushed back three times until it was finally set for Monday.
Sampson, 30, has been trying to establish himself as a big-leaguer since making his debut with Seattle in 2016. He got 5 starts with the Cubs last year and made one other appearance earlier this season.
"As bad as it stinks, he also made an impression on everybody," Ross said. "When you come up and do that, the sooner you're going to be back when you're fresh and continue to pitch well.
"What stood out to me was the fastball was up to 94, which he moved in and out. The slider had a little uptick on it. The change-up was real. When you're doing that, hitting the corners at 93, 94, it just was a different pitcher than I had seen last year. So it was a very impressive outing in my opinion."
Velazquez, 23, made his major league debut on May 30. He went 2-for-7 at the plate, starting both games of a doubleheader against Milwaukee. He's hit 15 home runs in the minors this year between Iowa and Tennessee.
Frazier arrives in Iowa:
While Nelson Velazquez moved up to the majors, outfielder Clint Frazier accepted an assignment to Iowa and took the field Sunday, striking out three times against Omaha.
"So happy for us," Cubs manager David Ross said. "I think Clint is a real big-leaguer. Getting him some regular at-bats down there, getting him locked in and be able to come back is a real positive for us and I hope he sees it the same way."
Frazier was designated for assignment on June 10 and after clearing waivers, had to decide whether to join the Iowa Cubs or try to find a new home.
"I signed here because I wanted to be here," Frazier told the Des Moines Register. "And ultimately, I think that I'll be able to play enough and finally find my groove to where somebody says, 'Let's give this guy a couple hundred at-bats.' Because I can hit.
"Hits bring a lot of friends. We'll see what I can do."
More brotherly love:
While Willson Contreras escorted younger brother William around the Cubs clubhouse Friday, Christopher Morel talked about his own little brother, Rafael, who is playing third base for the Cubs entry in the Arizona rookie league.
"Same person as me, a little stronger than me," Morel said. "It's something I hope to share one day (having his brother in the majors). Faith moves mountains, so I have faith one day it could happen."
This is Rafael Morel's third season playing in the Cubs system. He's hit .286 in eight games so far this season.
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