Notes: Miller goes on IL (back); Ryan recalled

April 24th, 2021

The Cubs placed right-hander on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain prior to Friday’s series opener against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. The move is retroactive to Thursday. In a corresponding move, the club selected left-hander from its alternate training site. Ryan made his season debut in Friday's 15-2 win, throwing two scoreless innings in relief while giving up a hit, walking one and striking out one.

Miller, 30, had a good Spring Training, giving up two earned runs over 12 innings, walking six and striking out 16. But so far in the regular season, he’s struggled, surrendering seven runs over three relief appearances (two innings).

The Cubs signed Miller this offseason as a low-risk, high-upside move. He was the 19th overall selection in the 2009 Draft by the Cardinals and seemed to be on his way to becoming one of the better starting pitchers in the league. In 2014, he was traded to the Braves in the deal that sent current Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward to St. Louis.

In 2015, Miller was an All-Star for the Braves, posting a 3.02 ERA over 33 starts. But then a drop in velocity, loss of command and injuries began plaguing him after a trade to the D-backs, and Miller struggled to a 6.89 ERA over 48 appearances (36 starts) for Arizona and Texas from 2016-19. After opting out of the shortened 2020 season, he’s looking to rejuvenate his career with the Cubs.

Ryan, meanwhile, was delayed due to COVID-19 protocols and unable to pitch in Spring Training. He had been building up his arm at the Cubs’ alternate training site since and will be looking to regain his 2019 form -- he was one of Chicago’s best relievers that year, turning in a 3.54 ERA over 73 appearances. Last season, he posted a 5.17 ERA in 18 appearances (15 2/3 innings).

“We wanted to make sure we built him up in the right way," manager David Ross said. “Having him, with his past history and how he built up his arm strength, it really goes back to last year and testing positive before Summer Camp and having to rush back, and just never really getting to the version of himself we thought he would be. … When he’s right, we trust him vs. left and right, so he’s a really valuable piece down there when he’s right. He showed that a couple years ago.”

Hoerner’s length of stay TBD
Versatile infielder was recalled from the Cubs’ alternate training site Thursday after the club placed outfielder Joc Pederson on the 10-day IL with left wrist tendinitis. Hoerner was in the starting lineup for Friday's win over the Brewers, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI.

Hoerner made his MLB debut with the Cubs in 2019, hitting .282/.305/.436 with three home runs in 82 plate appearances. He appeared in 48 games during last year’s shortened campaign, slashing .222/.312/.259 in 126 plate appearances.

Hoerner was the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline before debuting in the Majors in 2019, and with that distinction usually comes close attention to playing time at the big league level. Ross said that how long Hoerner is with the club, as well as how much he’ll play, remains to be determined.

“We’ve gotta see how that plays out. I don’t think there’s any timetable set,” Ross said. “Joc’s down, so the next guy up is Nico. Nico knew that when he was sent down, that if anything happens, any kind of long injury, he’d be the first guy called up. It’s hard to get too far ahead of yourself in this game.

“It’s like everybody else, I think we try to set guys up to help our team win -- I don’t think Nico’s any different than that. We’ll play him as we see, to match up [at the plate], and as the defense benefits us on the field."

Hughes to make Cubs TV debut
Longtime Cubs radio play-by-play voice Pat Hughes will call the action on Marquee Sports Network for Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers alongside color commentator Jim Deshaies. It will mark the first time Hughes, who has been a fixture on the Cubs’ flagship radio station, 670 The Score, for 26 years, will call a regular-season Cubs game on TV.

Fittingly, Hughes’ first TV call with the Cubs will come as Chicago plays the Brewers, for whom he called games on the radio from 1984-95.

“I’m very much looking forward to calling Sunday’s game on Marquee,” Hughes said. “Any opportunity to call a Cubs game is a treat, and I’m excited for this opportunity to call a couple games throughout the year on television while continuing my great relationship with 670 The Score and the Cubs radio team.”