Alzolay on Steele debut: 'I get chills'

Duffy placed on COVID-19 injured list; Romine progressing

April 14th, 2021

After Cubs lefty made his Major League debut on Monday night in Milwaukee, he found his long-time friend, Adbert Alzolay, in the dugout.

"Me and him had the biggest hug," Steele said on Tuesday afternoon. "We're just very proud of each other. We've pushed each other to get here."

Summoned from the South Bend, Ind., alternate training site prior to Monday's game, Steele logged 1 1/3 shutout innings across the sixth and seventh in Chicago's 6-3 loss. It was a silver-lining moment in a tough day for the ballclub.

The 25-year-old Steele struck out the first batter he faced, Daniel Robertson, to escape a sixth-inning jam. The pitcher got to keep that baseball as a memento, and said he plans on giving it to his mom.

Steele finished with a pair of strikeouts in his first taste of the Majors, firing his four-seamer 22 times out of 30 pitches. He generated eight swings and misses, and also showed off a slider he developed last year in South Bend.

Steele said he was thrilled to make his debut in a game started by Alzolay.

"Adbert was one of the very first close friends that I made in pro ball," Steele said. "We've always kept in touch, and me and him, it's just a great friendship that we have. ... So, to make my debut coming in after him meant a lot."

The pair of pitchers spent time as teammates as they moved up the Minor League ladder, dating back to Steele signing with the Cubs as a fifth-round MLB Draft pick in 2014.

"I get chills," Alzolay said. "When I saw him out there on the mound, dude, I was the happiest man in that dugout."

Duffy to COVID-19 related IL
Prior to Tuesday's game against the Brewers, the Cubs placed utility man Matt Duffy on MLB's COVID-19 related injured list. Chicago selected infielder Ildemaro Vargas from the alternate training site as a replacement player.

The move with Duffy comes one day after the Cubs also placed relievers Jason Adam, Dan Winkler and Brandon Workman on the COVID-19 related IL. Placement on the IL does not necessarily mean a player tested positive for COVID-19.

Worth noting
• Catcher Austin Romine (10-day injured list, right knee) caught 100-plus in seven innings and had four at-bats on Monday at the alternate training site, per manager David Ross. The skipper said Romine is getting closer to being able to rejoin the Cubs.

"There's a possibility of seeing him really soon," Ross said.

• Ross said two factors played a role in Vargas getting the call to replace Duffy. First, Vargas can fill the same type of versatile bench role, giving Chicago depth all around the infield. Vargas was also already in Milwaukee as part of the Cubs' five-man taxi squad.

• While bullpen coach Chris Young (positive COVID-19 test result) is away from the team, Ross said bullpen catcher Chad Noble is the acting bullpen coach for the Cubs.

"My mom was crying. All my family was just calling me, texting me and stuff. It was really special. Everybody in my hometown back in Lucedale, Mississippi, they were all very excited. It's a small town, but a lot of love and a lot of passion back there for baseball." -- Steele