3/25 Edwards: My nerves were crazy

C.J. Edwards was nervous Tuesday night. He had more than a week to prepare for his first Cactus League start, and had taken the advice of his father, who told him to pray and meditate. Edwards tried to visualize his approach.

“My dad actually helped me get ready for this game,” Edwards said.

But Edwards’ father was back in Prosperity, S.C., and the pitcher had to rely on Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and catcher John Baker, who both told Edwards to just keep doing what he had been doing. The slender right-hander was a combined 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA last season at Class A Hickory and High A Daytona. He joined the Cubs in July after being dealt from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal. Most of the Cubs front office, including Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, were in the stands in Peoria on Tuesday night to watch Edwards. He didn’t see them because Edwards says he has great “tunnel vision.” The 22-year-old had enough to think about.

“I went out there the first inning, and nerves were crazy,” Edwards said of his start against the Padres. “I can’t even explain the nerves I had. Overall being out there, I felt like I should be out there.”

He retired the first batter, and Seth Smith singled, but Edwards got Kyle Blanks to hit into a double play and end the inning. The second wasn’t as smooth as Xavier Nady singled to lead off and reached third on an error by Ryan Kalish. Rene Rivera hit a sacrifice fly, and Edwards then walked the next two batters. That prompted a visit from Bosio.

Edwards regrouped and got a ground out, and then struck out Andrew Cashner to end the inning. In the third, Edwards again retired the first batter, then Smith singled and Blanks walked. Bosio again came to the mound along with all the infielders. Edwards caught his breath, then served up a double to Nady and a sacrifice fly before he was lifted.

As Edwards walked off the field, Baker said something to him.

“His exact words were, ‘Hey, you did a hell of a job, man, and you’ve got a bright future ahead. Just stay with it,’” Edwards said, smiling.

A lot of players are so overcome by the moment that they admit they’re shaking the first time on a mound in a big league game.

“I actually wasn’t that nervous on the mound,” he said. “After I came in the first inning, my right knee just started going by itself and I was trying to look around and hold it down, but it didn’t work, so I let it bounce.”

Edwards also got advice from first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who came over to the mound in the second after the pitcher walked two in a row.

“He comes up to me, and he goes, ‘Hey, do you want to play first base?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s switch,’” Edwards said.

But they didn’t. It wasn’t just Baker or Rizzo, it was everyone on the Cubs giving Edwards support. They’ve all been there.

“Overall, the guys were behind me 100 percent and they have faith in me,” he said.

The Cubs just have to figure out a way to add some muscle to his skinny body. He weighed 165 on Tuesday, no change from January when he admitted he’s been eating everything in sight. In fact, he gorged on a large order of French toast at the Breakfast Club in Scottsdale on Tuesday morning. He couldn’t finish the eggs and sausage but did eat all the bread.

He could relax once his outing was over.

“Like I tell everybody, I enjoyed it,” Edwards said. “I feel I can be out there any time to help the club when the time comes. The guys that we have up are already doing great. We’ll have our ups and downs but we’ll go out there each and every day 110 percent. When that day comes and I get the call, I feel I’ll be ready to come up there.”

Hopefully, Tuesday’s start will make it easier when he does get promoted.

“Now, I feel my first game there [at Wrigley Field], I won’t be as nervous, but then again, it’ll be Chicago, and there will be over 100 thousand fans there,” he said, over-estimating the ballpark’s attendance by about 60,000. “It’s a little different here. It was wonderful. The outcome wasn’t good but overall just being around those guys was fantastic.”

Edwards isn’t sure where he’ll open the 2014 season, although the Cubs have said it could be Double-A Tennessee. He can only hope he’s matched up with his roommates, like Duane Underwood, who made the drive to Peoria to cheer on the right-hander. There were more people in the stands than in Edwards’ hometown.

“I believe there was,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

13 Comments

It will be interesting to see the line up in the last four games. Still questions to be answered which makes it fun. After yesterdays game, will Cabrera make the team? He was doing excellent, until yesterday.
Still a lot of infielders, is that trade going to happen?
Who gets cut? Kalish or Roberts still be around come Sunday?
How about Coghlan?
Baker and carry three Catchers? Kottares traded?
Fun stuff.

Inquiring Minds want to know on all these questions……….I need to check out and read the latest gossip at the food store line to get the answers !

Cubs just released Kottaras…….Baker is in.

Rangers acquired Murphy from the Cubs.

Here’s who is left with the Cubs:

PITCHERS:
Arrieta (DL)
Cabrera
Fujikawa (DL)
Grimm
Hammel
Jackson
McDonald (DL or Released)
Rondon
Rusin
Russell
Samardzija
Strop
Veras
Villanueva
Wood
Wright

CATCHING:
Castillo
Whiteside
Baker

INFIELD:
Barney
Castro
Olt
Rizzo
Valbuena
Roberts
Bonifacio

OUTFIELD:
Lake
Ruggiano
Sweeney
Schierholtz
Coghlan
Kalish

Four guys have to go still…….my guess…….Grimm, Whiteside, Sweeney, Kalish

the Mike Olt era has begun! Very exciting in my opinion. Should give us something to really watch for this season. Anybody want to guess how many wins the Cubs have this season? Maybe make a friendly wager?

71-91. Anything better would be a shock. Of course, the bar will be raised for 2015 when Baez will be around for a full season, and Bryant will be up around mid-season.

I think Veras goes,bad spring,has shown nothing.Whiteside has already been sent to AAA. Do you throw Strop out there,is Veras a guarenteed contract. Who has options left,not Cabrera,the biggest stories though have been Olt and Bonifacio. Might not win alot but moving forward. Go Cubs Go!

They signed Veras to be the closer and build value for the first half so he can be traded in the second half. There’s no way he does not make the team. Ditching your backup catcher who was signed for a little over a million is a lot easier than ditching your closer who was signed for over 4 million!

Didnt know the contract was guarenteed. If he keeps pitching like he has been not much value either way. Can understand now why his former team used him the way they did, or I mean did not!

bro its spring training… relax… lets give him at least till end of april to show us what he has left in the tank…

His former team, the Tigers, acquired him to improve the depth of their bullpen for the playoff race, so I’m not really sure what you mean by “Can understand now why his former team used him the way they did, or I mean did not!”. And yes, it’s tough to make a generalization of how a player is going to perform based on Spring Training stats. I pointed out the other day that Travis Wood had a not-so-great spring in 2013 and went on to be an All-Star pitcher that year. Let them pitch when it counts in situations that matter and see how they do. I mean, closers are almost never brought into a one-run game in the 9th inning of a spring training game, so they are especially hard to evaluate in the spring!

Doug,just going by stats,0-5 and 3 plus era on the season,5 and a half ERA in the playoffs last year. Absolutely terrible spring training.The only reason he is still here is because of his salary.Will you let someone comment without being negative,petry10,will do bro.

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