ST. LOUIS – When Adrian Sampson joined the Cubs on this two-city road trip, manager David Ross made sure to say, I told you so.
He didn’t lead with that, first asking about his early flight into Pittsburgh on Thursday. But after those niceties, Ross added with a smile: “I told you you’d be here.”
On Saturday, Sampson made his first major league start of the season, in a whirlwind year for the right-hander, as the Cubs lost 5-3 the Cardinals. He held the Cardinals to two runs through five innings at Busch Stadium.
Both those runs came in the first inning, as he gave up three straight base hits, two of which were bloopers that dropped into left field.
Sampson had earned the start after holding the Braves to one hit through 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief last week.Days later, the Cubs had to trim the number of pitchers on their roster to 13, as the new roster limit went into effect. The Cubs optioned Sampson to Triple-A.
“I know I’ll see you back real soon,” Ross said as he delivered the news, in what he described as an “extremely difficult” conversation.
That back-and-forth barely begins to describe the kind of year Sampson has had.
Sampson began the year in the Cubs organization, but they designated him for assignment on May 10, and Seattle claimed him off waivers. He never appeared for the Mariners, who cut him eight days later, putting Sampson in, as Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy put it, “DFA limbo.”
When he cleared waivers, Sampson elected free agency instead of an outright assignment to the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate.The Cubs signed Sampson to a minor-league contract on May 31. He hadn’t pitched in a game in over three weeks.
“For him to take that all in stride, it’s just a testament to who he is and his work ethic,” Hottovy said in a conversation with the Sun-Times. “And he’s being rewarded for handling things the right way.”