Wells' Years of Service Paying Off

Randy Wells has been in the Chicago Cubs' organization for a long time: since 2002, when he was drafted as a catcher. But if baseball is at all like culinary then the 26-year-old Wells, now a pitcher, is like a fine wine.

Wells received his first big league call-up to Chicago earlier this month after wrapping up a solid season at Class AAA Iowa, where he was 10-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 118 2/3 innings.

The right-hander had pitched in the big leagues prior to that call-up with Toronto earlier this year, but only briefly. He was returned to the Cubs in late April after just one appearance with the Blue Jays, who had previously selected Wells in the Rule Five Draft last December.

Getting called up to Chicago was special, Wells said.

"I've played a long time in this organization and have spent a lot of years trying to get to this point," Wells said. "Coming at the end of (my) contract and being a six-year free agent, if I would have never got a chance to play in Chicago or see Wrigley Field, I would have been disappointed in myself.

"Being from the area I'm from, it's special to play for either the Cubs or the Cardinals."

Wells is from Belleville, Ill., where he attended high school only a short drive from the Missouri border and St. Louis. He still makes his off-season home in Southwestern Illinois, so when the Cubs called to tell Wells that he was needed in St. Louis last week, he didn't have to drive very far to meet up with teammates at Busch Stadium.

"I was surprised," recalled Wells. "I had no idea. I was actually driving home. The whole thing's been kind of surreal so far."

Wells has yet to make an appearance since getting the call-up, but he hopes to carry out his brand of pitching and make a positive impression on manager Lou Piniella.

That could happen sooner than later with right-hander Chad Gaudin on the disabled list and not expected back right away. Wells said he isn't certain of his role yet.

"I'm just going to go in the bullpen and see what happens," he said.

Wells believes in being aggressive at all times. Walks are not acceptable, almost absent from his vocabulary. This season with Iowa, he struck out 102 batters and walked just 34. For his career, he has a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Wells features a four-seam fastball, a slider and changeup in his repertoire, and this season he added a cutter to induce more groundballs.

Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel-Farm Director Oneri Fleita said he's happy Wells returned to Chicago and put together the kind of numbers he did at Iowa.

"He had a great season. Like everything, you hate to see some of your players lost in the Rule Five," said Fleita. "We were fortunate to get him back, and he's been a great person in this organization. He's done everything that we could have ever asked, and he continues to get better. He's a guy that was a converted catcher five or six years ago, and every year he just seems to get better.

"He's like a good wine. He continues to get better with age."

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