Hours before first pitch was scheduled to open in the Crosstown Classic on Tuesday, the Cubs announced a change in starting pitchers.
They were placing lefty Drew Smyly on the bereavement list and starting side-armer Scott Effross.
Effross, who debuted last season, enters Tuesday with a 1.80 ERA through 10 innings.
“His profile helps, just the ability to get the ground ball, the ability to strike guys out and the ability to throw strikes,” Cubs manager David Ross said of his confidence putting Effross into a number of situations. “He seemed to handle each moment I’ve thrown at him really well. And he did that last year and continues to grow into that.”
It will be the first start of Effross’ career.
“I think that’s a good choice,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said of Effross starting. “He’s been throwing the ball well and will adapt to a starting role. I know it’s only one game, but still the mindset has to be different, and I think he’s going to have the ability to adapt to it.”
The Cubs also made a pair of roster moves to fill out their active roster and reinforce their pitching staff. The Cubs called up right-hander Robert Gsellman, who they signed to minor-league deal this spring, from Triple-A. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated lefty Locke St. John for assignment.
Contreras was out of the lineup Tuesday for what Ross called “a little something” but “nothing serious.” He declined to get into specific, citing competitive advantage reasons, but when he was asked whether it was an upper or lower body injury, he said “mid.” Contreras is available off the bench against the White Sox Tuesday.
Contreras hasn’t caught in a game since Friday, in an 11-1loss at Milwaukee. Contreras served as the designated hitter on Saturday.
Frazier back with team
Cubs outfielder Clint Frazier was back in the clubhouse with his teammates Tuesday for the first time since undergoing an appendectomy a week and a half ago. In the food room, Frazier told Ross he was ready to return.
“I told him I was more than he was,” Ross said. “We had big debate. I think he was right probably.”
That Ross wasn’t ready to pick up a bat. But the Cubs don’t want to rush Frazier back either. He said he can still feel the incision site in his belly button stretching when he bends backward.
“I definitely think I could swing right now,” Frazier said. “But I don’t think the path moving forward will be that quick. But I feel a lot better.”
On Tuesday he was cleared to ride the stationary bike and do light exercises
“Following the timelines other guys, it seems like the window is three to five weeks,” Frazier said. “So, I think I’m definitely on time for depending on what they let me do.”