Alec Mills

Cubs' David Ross: Alec Mills Penciled Into Rotation — for Now

Mills fourth starter for Cubs with Alzolay out — for now originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

MESA, Ariz — As the Cubs process and plan around pitcher Adbert Alzolay’s lat injury, manager David Ross has penciled right-hander Alec Mills into the rotation behind his top three, he said Tuesday after a second day of spring workouts.

“We’re going to plan for Millsy to be a starter,” he said. “If something changes, we’ll adjust from there. I think he’s proven he deserves a shot at being in the rotation for sure.”

Mills, who has been effective in a hybrid/swingman role in recent seasons, steps up in significant for the Cubs’ rotation with Alzolay expected to miss maybe half the season because of a lat injury — his status as a starter this year uncertain even when he returns.

For now, that puts Mills in a top four that includes veteran starters Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley.

Ross stressed that his rotation remains fluid at this point, even when asked about whether the Mills decision means only one spot in the rotation is open.

“We’ve got a lot of open roster spots, and we’ll continue to work towards that,” he said. “I’m not ready to lock in the rotation quite yet. We’re going to try to maximize as many arms as we can.”

Young pitchers Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson — who figured to fill at least hybrid roles as short-inning starters or multi-inning relievers in piggyback starts — step up in significance with Alzolay sidelined.

“I feel like we have some depth,” Ross said. “Millsy can do a lot of different things. We have the young guys coming. They’re still intent [in the front office] on getting more pitching.

“That’ll shape out more even for me as we get things filled out.”

One thing that’s no longer an option is dropping the fifth starter early because some of the early days off on the original schedule are now gone in the reconfigured schedule coming out of the lockout.

Fluid at the back end? To say the least?

“I have to defer to [the fact] I don’t know what the rotation [options] look like,” Ross reiterated. “So we’ll continue to assess, keep everybody healthy. And we’ll have that picture painted a lot better in a couple weeks.”

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