The Chicago Cubs’ long-term outlook on right-hander Hayden Wesneski hasn’t changed.

They believe in his ability to be a big-league starter and potentially an impact arm in their rotation down the line.

But the Cubs need more out of their struggling bullpen and are looking to Wesneski to bolster it. They recalled the 25-year-old from Triple-A Iowa before Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays and optioned right-hander Michael Rucker.

Manager David Ross isn’t defining a role for Wesneski in the bullpen. Multi-inning use or one-inning appearances both could be in play.

“We’re trying to get the most talented pitchers we can down there,” Ross said. “He’s going to go out and do him, so I don’t worry about the heart rate, and he’s been in the bullpen before in big moments.

“The reason why guys start is usually they’re the best pitchers and have the best stuff to go multiple innings. That stuff could tick up. We don’t know what we’re going to get out of the other pen, but I don’t think developmental-wise there’s anything that gives us hesitation.”

Wesneski was informed of the bullpen plan Monday. He pitched well in relief after he was called up in September, allowing three runs in 8⅔ innings over two appearances. Those outings were scripted usage, however. Wesneski likely won’t have the same type of heads up in knowing which games and situations Ross will call on him.

Wesneski doesn’t expect his pitch usage to change as a reliever, though there might be outings in which a pitch isn’t working well and he can stay away from it. That’s harder to do as a starter when facing a lineup two or three times.

Last year’s bullpen experience did help Wesneski understand what he needed to do to get ready for an in-game appearance.

“You try to take away little things and try to basically paint a picture of how things are going to go and get yourself ready for today,” Wesneski said. “‘I’ll be honest with you, whatever they need, like, we’re trying to figure that out. And I think in a month from now, we’re really going to have an understanding of what’s going on a little bit more, but this is what they want me to do right now and that’s what I’m here for.

“The big leagues is the big leagues and you’re trying to help the big club win, so I’d rather relieve here.”

Wesneski made two starts for Iowa after the Cubs optioned him May 15 in the lead-up to Kyle Hendricks’ season debut last week. Wesneski allowed three runs (one earned) in nine innings with six walks and nine strikeouts.

Aside from his command, part of Wesneski’s focus at Iowa was shortening his routine before starts. He believes this experience relieving could help with that area of preparation.

“You can start cutting stuff down and figure out, hey, I actually don’t need this, this and this. Why have I been doing this for the last year?” he said “So this could turn out to be a good thing.

“Last year it turned out to be a good thing. So we can spin it that way if you want, but, yes, the routine is going to look obviously really different. But I can do a lot of things before the game.”


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