Alec Mills up for any role when he returns to Cubs

Righty Alec Mills (low back strain) made his first rehab appearance Saturday at Triple-A Iowa, throwing three innings and allowing three earned runs. Mills, who was back at Wrigley Field on Sunday, called the outing a “step in the right direction.” Importantly, he said he got through the appearance without feeling anything.

Mills is expected to make another rehab start later this week, but he didn’t want to put an exact timetable on his return to the Cubs.

“I feel good,” Mills said. “I obviously need to get to a position where I can throw multiple innings. Go out there and get another outing under my belt and feel good again [and] see where it goes from there.”

Mills is being built up to start, but is up for any role when he joins the Cubs.

“Whatever happens when I get back is what I’ll do,” Mills said. “I think it’s a broken record, I say it every time, I’ll do whatever.”

As for pitcher Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation), he threw around 50 pitches in a bullpen session that went well, and is expected to throw live batting practice Wednesday in Atlanta. Unlike Mills, whose versatility allows him to be slotted in different parts of the staff, Miley will be a starter when he’s past his injury.

“Depending on personnel, where we’re at, health and concerns about a lot of things and optional pieces, all those things [are] a factor in how we fit things together,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I know Millsy’s done multiple roles, so that’s always an option, but I think the main thing for me is just that we get him built up to start.”

Putting it in perspective

The Cubs’ 21-0 win Saturday was the franchise’s most lopsided shutout victory ever, surpassing a 20-0 win in Washington on May 28, 1886. It was also the Cubs’ biggest home win since a 29-run victory over Louisville on June 29, 1897, at the West Side Grounds.

The historic nature of the win didn’t reach Ross until after the game when he was informed by Cubs media relations.

“We were joking yesterday, everybody’s enjoying the 21-0 game and I still have to give the green light 3-0 to swing or not to swing,” Ross said. “Managers’ decisions don’t end until the game ends, and then there’s more to be made. I don’t know that I ever sit back and enjoy.”

Ross was more focused on watching lefty Sean Newcomb make his Cubs debut and who he could rest in the middle of the blowout, which he did by pinch-hitting for right fielder Seiya Suzuki in the fifth.

The Cubs also lived up to their contact-first ethos by scoring 21 times and hitting just one home run. Those 21 runs were the most by the club in a game with one or no homers since beating the Boston Braves 24-2 on July 3, 1945.

“The homers are nice. I like home runs,” Ross said. “I think everybody likes home runs, but I think we’re built to be contact-based and hopefully that’s a strength of ours.”

Thoughts on Cabrera

Ross knew pretty early that Miguel Cabrera, who picked up his 3,000th hit Saturday would be special. When he was asked about the future Hall of Famer, Ross remembered Cabrera’s Aug. 14, 2003, opposite-field home run off a splitter from Dodgers starter Kevin Brown, which was just the seventh homer of his career.

“I was like, who the heck is this?” Ross said. “Nobody does that.”

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