Cubs’ Mark Leiter Jr. set to start Saturday in first major-league game since 2018

DENVER – The Cubs are calling up right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. to start against the Rockies on Saturday, Cubs manager David Ross announced.

It will be Leiter’s first major-league game since 2018. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and spent the 2021 season in the minors. The Cubs signed Leiter to a minor-league deal in December.

“I came here to compete to pitch in the major leagues,” Leiter said during spring training. “Whatever my role will be, I’ll be ready to go.”

Leiter allowed just one earned run in four spring training appearances, including one start.

“Knows how to navigate, has got some time in the big leagues, has got a little bit of grit to him, some characteristics you always like to see,” Ross said. “And we’ll bring him in here and give him a chance to show what he’s capable of. Had a really nice spring for us.”

Leiter is not on the 40-man roster, so the Cubs will have to make a corresponding move before his start.

Thompson’s suspension reduced

Major League Baseball reduced Cubs reliever Keegan Thompson’s suspension from three days to two as a result of his appeal. Thompson was suspended for hitting Brewers outfielder Andrew McCutchen over the weekend. The league ruled that he intentionally threw at McCutchen after Brewers pitchers hit three Cubs batters.

Thompson’s suspension begins Friday. He threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in the Cubs’ 5-2 win against the Rockies Thursday, so his suspension lines up with a normal rest schedule.

Simmons through setback

Cubs shortstop Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder inflammation) had to take a couple days off of hitting because of a finger issue, according to Ross. But Simmons is scheduled to start hitting again on Saturday.

“Throwing’s going well, ground balls doing well, feels good,” Ross sad. “Feels like it’s 85 percent with the arm, so I don’t think he’s far away. Just getting back the swings. We’ll get him some live looks here soon hopefully.”

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