CHICAGO -- The Cubs are hoping they got a new super utility pitcher in reliever Jesse Chavez, who was acquired from the Rangers on Thursday and is expected to be at Wrigley Field on Saturday.The Cubs dealt Minor League pitcher Tyler Thomas to Texas for Chavez, 34, who has a
CHICAGO -- The Cubs are hoping they got a new super utility pitcher in reliever Jesse Chavez, who was acquired from the Rangers on Thursday and is expected to be at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
The Cubs dealt Minor League pitcher Tyler Thomas to Texas for Chavez, 34, who has a 3.51 ERA in 30 relief appearances this season, striking out 50 over 56 1/3 innings while walking 12. Chavez has spent 11 seasons in the Majors with seven clubs: the Pirates (2008-09), Braves ('10), Royals ('10-11), Blue Jays ('12, '16), Athletics ('12-15), Dodgers ('16), Angels ('17) and Rangers ('18).
"The versatility is so attractive," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Chavez. "If you have a problem early in the game, he could easily fill that spot up. If it's in the latter part of the game, and some guys have been utilized a lot, you can fill him in there. He's kind of interesting. He's kind of a 'super [utility]' guy in the bullpen."
Lefty Mike Montgomery has filled that role for the Cubs, but this season, he has been used primarily as a starter, subbing for the injured Yu Darvish.
"Monty was the Swiss Army knife out there," Maddon said. "Now you've got Jesse."
Maddon wanted to talk to Chavez about what he felt comfortable doing. The right-hander started 21 games in 2017 with the Angels, and his longest outing this season was five innings in relief on June 1. He has thrown at least 60 pitches three times.
"He's the kind of guy who has a variety of different uses potentially for us," Maddon said.
Around the horn
• What influence does Maddon have on the Cubs' front office prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline?
"Zero," Maddon said. "It should be. I don't get to go out and watch [the players]. The input would be if [the front office is] interested in somebody. They would ask me about them, and I would tell them what I think. I should have no impact on trades. We don't get to see these guys perform against somebody else other than us."
• Even though Willson Contreras and Kyle Hendricks will be at Wrigley Field this weekend, their presence will be felt a few miles south at Soldier Field, where the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics is taking place. Both Contreras and Hendricks are special ambassadors, the first Major League players to fulfill that role.
"You have so much fun with these athletes, and they bring us so much joy," Hendricks said. "It's amazing -- they're always so happy and so positive, it blows us away every time we go and spend time with them. It got to the point where, how could we not do this? We have so much fun. We love going to hang out with them."
Contreras wanted to get involved after a hospital visit he made with some kids. He also has a cousin and a neighbor in Venezuela who have Down Syndrome.
"That's what really motivated me to get involved in Special Olympics," Contreras said.
The first Special Olympic Games were held at Soldier Field in Chicago in July 1968, so it seemed fitting to hold the 50th anniversary there. The event runs through Sunday.
• Cubs Minor League pitcher Saul Vazquez, currently on the team's Dominican Summer League roster, has received a 72-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced the suspension on Friday following Vazquez's violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Vazquez, 18, was 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts for the Cubs' Dominican team, striking out 18 over 20 innings.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.