The Cubs got the left-hander in 2004 from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for LHP Felix Sanchez. He was the Tigers' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2003 for Class-A West Michigan.
In his first season with the Cubs at Class-A Daytona, Connolly went 9-5 with a 2.40 ERA in 21 starts. He won 12 games that year between Daytona, West Tenn and the Tigers' Florida State League affiliate in Lakeland.
Poised for his first full-season run at Double-A a season ago, Connolly underwent season-ending shoulder surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in July. He returned this spring, pitching for the Double-A squad in Spring Training before being given his release over the weekend.
Asked about what transpired, the usually outgoing and chatty Connolly was mum and sharply to the point.
"I know the Cubs had their reasons, but I don't really feel like talking about them," he said. "It did come as a shock to me. It usually does to most people."
Connolly says he hasn't been in contact with other organizations since he was given the news on Saturday and that he isn't sure whether he wants to continue pitching at this point or not.
"He was healthy," said one high-ranking team official, "but the numbers just weren't there."
The 22-year-old Connolly is a career 37-17 pitcher with a 2.71 ERA in 83 games between the Cubs and Tigers in five minor league seasons.
E-mail Steve Holley: firstname.lastname@example.org.