2/15 Lone lefty Russell ready
It’s a different spring for lefty James Russell. Last year, he was competing for a spot in the bullpen, and joined other lefties, Sean Marshall and John Grabow. Now, he’s being looked at for the Cubs rotation and could be the only left-hander there. As far as Russell can tell, the only difference this spring is that he will probably throw more innings.
“I’m going to have to make the best of all of my pitches,” he said Tuesday. “If I’m going to last, I have to get my pitch count down and make quality pitches all the time. You have to do the same thing if you’re in the bullpen. You’ve got to make quality pitches and go out and hit your spots.”
He has four to chose from — a slider, changeup, fastball, and curve. Did he show all of those last year?
“Last year, I didn’t get to throw my changeup a whole lot because I was coming in and facing lefties,” he said. “I like throwing lefty-lefty changeups, but I didn’t make it too big of a habit.”
Russell and Andrew Cashner are close. They drove to Arizona together from Texas, making what has become an annual stop at a store in El Paso to purchase new boots. (On a personal note, Cashner has some pretty sweet looking boots).
Back to baseball.
“We’re going to push each other,” Russell said of he and Cashner. “He’ll get the best out of me and I’ll get the best out of him and if not, we’ll slap each other around.”
If starting doesn’t work, Russell will likely be back in the bullpen.
“We’re dumb enough to where it doesn’t even bother us,” he said. “We don’t get fazed by too much. I don’t know if it’s our age or what. We’re young and dumb and ready to go throw strikes.”
– Carrie Muskat