PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Kintzler didn't want to deal with a possible delay at the airport, so he got in a car and was driven from Washington to Pittsburgh in time for the Cubs' game against the Pirates on Wednesday night. Chicago manager Joe Maddon didn't waste any time getting his
PITTSBURGH -- Brandon Kintzler didn't want to deal with a possible delay at the airport, so he got in a car and was driven from Washington to Pittsburgh in time for the Cubs' game against the Pirates on Wednesday night. Chicago manager Joe Maddon didn't waste any time getting his new reliever in the game.
On his 34th birthday, Kintzler was inserted in the sixth inning, after Cole Hamels exited his own Cubs debut. Kintzler tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the Cubs' 9-2 win over the Pirates, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out one.
"I figured, just get in a car and catch a ride," Kintzler said.
Acquired from the Nationals on Tuesday in exchange for a Minor League pitcher, Kintzler could be used in save situations while Brandon Morrow continues his rehab from right biceps inflammation.
"This makes our bullpen really interesting, with [Morrow] hopefully getting back really soon," Maddon said. "To spread out the work in August and September, going into the playoffs, because the bullpen gets really worn down by that time, that gets interesting to me. Brandon [Kintzler] should take work off [Steve Cishek]."
Kintzler saved 29 games last season, and this year he appeared in 45 games with the Nationals and posted a 3.59 ERA over 42 2/3 innings, striking out 31. Opponents were batting .253 against him, including a .208 average by National League Central teams.
Kintzler didn't really know anyone on the Cubs, although he did rent Cishek's house in Florida for Spring Training. He was thrilled that the Cubs were interested in him.
"For any contending team to want you is a privilege," Kintzler said. "A couple years ago, I couldn't get a Minor League job, and now I get to be on two contending teams. You have to take that as you can. As I'm getting older, the window is getting shorter to be in a World Series."
The Cubs optioned Randy Rosario to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Kintzler on the 25-man roster.
"He was upset, and I know he was upset," Maddon said of Rosario, who was 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA in 26 games in relief. "[The move] took him by surprise. He did a great job. I thought in Spring Training, the big thing he had to overcome was command issues, strike throwing, and he got much better during the course of the season and got us out of some tough jams. He's going to be good for a while.
"Right now, we had to do something, and guys like him, until they're out of options, pay the price of having options. When they don't have any options, they get to stay. It's just the rules of the game."
Kintzler brings 'great teammate' reputation
Maddon was aware of a story that painted an unflattering picture of the Nationals' clubhouse. In a radio interview, Kintzler denied being part of that, saying he'd never talked to the writer.
"I can tell you this, I'm confident that the due diligence that we did contradicts everything that was written," Maddon said. "I'm satisfied with that, and furthermore I'm looking forward to meeting Brandon.
"I have no idea what's going on there. That's their situation, not ours."
Maddon did not reach out to Nationals manager Dave Martinez to check on Kintzler.
"I've heard [he's a] great teammate, really good teammate, great competitor," Maddon said of his new reliever. "His agenda is to win. It sounds like he's a Level 5 player. You look at his body of work and the guy goes out there a lot and throws ground balls. That's normally good for us playing at Wrigley. He kind of checks all the boxes."
On Wednesday, Kintzler said he appreciated that the Cubs were satisfied.
"I want to get my name clear," Kintzler said. "I don't want my character to be questioned. I work hard to be a good teammate. That's something I learned from Trevor Hoffman. I always take that serious. When I got questioned about it, I had to clear my name and make sure everyone knows I'm not part of that.
"It's nice that [the Cubs] did their due diligence. I respect that, for sure. It's good that people backed me up."
• Kristopher Bryant has yet to resume hitting or any baseball activities since he went on the disabled list July 24 because of left shoulder inflammation. Maddon did not think it would take long for the third baseman to return once he gets the go-ahead.
"With him, it could happen quickly," Maddon said. "Once he gets to the point where they take the wrappers off and say, 'Let's go,' and if there's no setbacks, I think it could happen relatively fast. You just want to make sure he gets at-bats and is comfortable."
• Yu Darvish had no issues the day after throwing in the bullpen, and he will likely have his next session on Saturday at Wrigley Field. He's been out since late May because of right triceps tendinitis.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.