Aardsma's Future Includes Trip Back to Bullpen

West Tenn pitcher Dave Aardsma is still adjusting to new teammates, a new city, and a new organization. The year 2005 has been one of transition for the San Francisco Giants' 2003 first round draft pick. The biggest change came on May 28 when Aardsma was shipped to the Cubs along with RHP Jerome Williams for reliever LaTroy Hawkins.

"It's been kind of crazy," Aardsma said.

"I had just got back from a road trip with Norwich (the Giants' Double-A affiliate) when I got a call from Brian Sabean while I was sleeping. It was the last thing I would have expected. Everything has been happening so fast. I took two planes to get to Jackson and then pitched the next day. I'm very happy right now. I'm trying to get used to how these two different organizations are run."

Aardsma's other big adjustment this year has been switching from the bullpen to starting. The right-hander was the all-time saves leader at Rice University and helped lead the Owls to their first National Championship in 2003.

The following year, Aardsma made the Giants' 25-man roster and pitched in 11 games from the bullpen. He struggled with a 1-0 record and 6.75 ERA.

"Last year when the season began, I was up and down seven times from San Francisco to (Triple-A) Fresno," Aardsma said. "I was closing in Fresno. This year, I went to Fresno right out of Spring Training, and they sat me down and told me they wanted me to be a starter."

Aardsma was then sent to Norwich of the Eastern League to begin the season. The Cubs' plans for the Denver native are a little different than the Giants'. Aardsma will continue to start at West Tenn, but only until his breaking ball and off-speed pitches are perfected. After that, he will move back into the bullpen, he says.

"The key is to work on my breaking ball and get it tightened up," Aardsma said. "I had pretty good success last year at Triple-A out of the bullpen. I like coming into the game and closing it out."

Aardsma has been on the fast track since he was drafted. After signing with the Giants less than a month after being drafted, he was sent to Class High-A San Jose of the California League, where he compiled a 1-1 record with a 1.96 ERA in 18 games.

Then in Spring Training the following year, Aardsma impressed the Giants so much that he vaulted both Double-A and Triple-A to make the opening day roster.

"I came right after guys and had a lot of success," Aardsma said. "It was a shock to everybody."

The last week has been a whirlwind for Aardsma, but it hasn't been hard to get accustomed to being with his new team. The second place Diamond Jaxx (38-20) have quickly impressed its newest member.

"From what I've seen here, they expect to win every night," Aardsma said. "When we are down three runs in the ninth inning, we expect to get the three runs we need. You can definitely tell this team wants to win. They have some players that can hit a ton and some very good pitchers."

And so it appears that Aardsma is slowly getting used to being a member of the Cub farm system. In two starts, he is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA, eight walks, and seven strikeouts.

"There is still a lot of stuff going on," Aardsma admits. "I still have a car in Fresno. It feels like one long road trip right now. It's going to hit me soon. I just want to be a part of the Cubs' organization."

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