Duensing activated, logs scoreless debut

Veteran lefty replaces Edwards Jr.; Happ's homer binge has Maddon's attention

April 14th, 2017

CHICAGO -- awoke at 5:30 a.m. CT on Friday, went to the airport in Des Moines, Iowa, and arrived at Wrigley Field with plenty of time for a clubhouse tour.

"I got a tour, but I don't even know where I'm at right now, to be honest. I need to go the bathroom, but I don't know if I can find it," Duensing said before Friday's series opener against the Pirates. "This is incredible. Incredible facility and clubhouse and all the bells and whistles."

Duensing, who signed a one-year deal with the Cubs this offseason, was activated off the 10-day disabled list Friday after dealing with lower back tightness during Spring Training. He replaced right-hander , who was placed on the bereavement list.

Duensing, 34, made two rehab outings for Triple-A Iowa, tossing three scoreless innings and striking out five.

"Feel good, feel fine," Duensing said. "Back's good, arm's good. Everything's so far, so good."

Duensing has a 4.13 ERA in 368 games (61 starts) in eight years with the Twins and Orioles. He joined Mike Montgomery as the second lefty in the Cubs' 'pen and was immediately called into action by manager Joe Maddon in the Cubs' eventual 4-2 loss the Bucs. Duensing pitched a scoreless seventh inning while striking out one.

Duensing, making his first trip to Wrigley Field despite eight Major League seasons, said he was excited to finally join a confident Cubs squad intent on repeating their championship from a year ago.

"I get the vibe that they're going to do it again, but not in like a cocky or braggy way," Duensing said. "Just, we're going to go out here and we're going to have fun, we're going to take care of business and we're going to have fun doing it."

Worth noting

• Duensing had a front-row seat to the early-season exploits of Ian Happ, the club's No. 2 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, who has homered five times in his first eight games at Triple-A Iowa.

"He's fun to pull for," Duensing said. "And when he puts the ball in play, it makes a little bit different sound off his bat than some other guys. … Yeah, he's got incredible power. Opposite, pull, it doesn't matter. He's got power. It's fun to watch him play."

Maddon said he's gotten reports on Happ. He reiterated what he said in Spring Training about young players needing to continue to prove themselves and be ready at a moment's notice.

"Good for them, I'm happy for them," Maddon said of Happ and other youngsters off to hot starts. "Obviously you're going to need depth. They're indicating that they're getting close to being ready. I don't go nuts over a month's worth of good work either. But it was a nice Spring Training. They need to do that on a consistent basis and earn the right to be here."

• The next time comes in to pitch at Wrigley Field, he'll hear his walk-up music: "Ackrite" by Dr. Dre. The song wasn't played for the new Cubs closer's first two appearances, which was simply a matter of communication -- Davis didn't know whom to tell.

The Cubs' relievers were discussing their music on Thursday in the bullpen. Last year, the Wrigley Field crowd got revved up whenever it heard "Wake Up" by Rage Against the Machine, which was 's song. Davis even had recommendations for some of the pitchers, including , who has switched his tune this year to ZZ Top's "Tush."

Grimm has been impressed by Davis' pitching so far.

"He needs to come out to something hard that says 'I'm a bad man,'" Grimm said.

He meant that in a good way.

• The hardware continued to roll in for Cubs players on Friday, as first baseman and right-hander received their National League Silver Slugger Awards in a pregame ceremony. Rizzo also received his Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.

returned to the mound Friday afternoon for the first time since injuring his left knee on Wednesday and leaving the game early. He entered in the eighth inning and retired three of the four batters he faced.