Ohman Discusses Successful Rookie Season

Will Ohman has been a successful member of the Cubs' bullpen since being called up from Triple-A on April 26. In 31 appearances, the left-hander has a 2-1 record with a 2.29 ERA. Cubs manager Dusty Baker used Ohman primarily in lefty-lefty situations when he was first promoted, but has now started to rely on the 27-year-old in more crucial circumstances.

"It has been an interesting road," Ohman admits. "When I got called up, I was just really grateful to be back. I have been fortunate that he (Baker) has given me the ball in some bigger situations. Hopefully that continues."

Ohman was an eighth round Cubs draft pick in 1998 who appeared in 11 games in 2001. Two surgeries to his left arm kept Ohman out of baseball in 2002 and 2003, and after spending last season at AAA-Iowa, the Pepperdine alumnus was outstanding in the Mexican League last fall and was hopeful of a spot on the 25-man roster.

Then after spring training, Ohman's fate sent him back to Des Moines, though only for a few short weeks.

"Dusty says it all the time, 'confidences breeds confidence and success breeds success,' " Ohman said. "I'm sure he didn't know what he had when he called me up. He has been more willing to give me the ball in some good situations lately."

Mike Remlinger, Glendon Rusch and Ohman currently make up the left-handed trio in the Cubs' bullpen. The relief core has seen dramatic changes since the 2005 season began in Mesa a few months back.

Gone are LaTroy Hawkins, Joe Borowski and essentially Chad Fox; Jon Leicester, Todd Wellemeyer and Cliff Bartosh are now at Triple-A; and Sergio Mitre and Ryan Dempster have been transferred from the rotation to the 'pen.

"There is always going to be change, just by way of trade, or injury circumstance, or somebody playing beyond expectations," Ohman said.

"You get called up based on how you're doing, especially with the younger guys pushing for jobs. No matter what team you're on, you are always going to prepare for change."

Ohman is optimistic that the bullpen will be used less often with Kerry Wood and Mark Prior back from injuries. The southpaw hopes the return of the Cubs' most recognizable pitchers will provide a major spark for his team.

"It definitely is a big confidence booster to have 40 percent of your rotation back," Ohman said. "It's a huge lift for everyone. All we (the bullpen) try and do in a particular game or inning is go out and get the job done. We are all there to get outs and pick each other up. That's what a good bullpen and a good team does."

And despite the Cubs' recent slide, Ohman feels the team has a winning attitude that is contagious throughout the clubhouse.

A big reason for the team's mentality, at least in Ohman's opinion, is Baker.

"We have a tremendous amount of respect for someone that played the game and has been around for so long," Ohman said. "He is such a good player's manager. He sticks up for you, but doesn't make excuses for you. He relates real well; he was a player, so he knows how it's done. He gets the maximum performance from his guys. That's all you can ask from a manager."

The Cubs are only 21-21 at Wrigley Field halfway through the season, but Ohman does not feel there is a key reason why the Cubs have not been more effective in the home surroundings; nor does he criticize any of the recent boo birds who have come out at the friendly confines.

"I think it's earmarked as something bigger than it really is," Ohman said.

"Something is being made out of it that is not an issue. The fans are behind us and want us to win. Because of their expectations and the expectations we have on ourselves, it's a little harder to swallow."

With the Cubs drifting around the .500 mark in early July and facing a double-digit deficit behind St. Louis, there is certainly room for pessimism.

Still, Ohman insists his team still believes the playoffs and a winning season are well within reach.

"I think we can do the job," he said. "We have two tough teams (Atlanta and Florida) that are playing good baseball right now. If we have 80 or 81 games in the book and 80 or 81 to go, we're still in a position to get back in this division."

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