According to the Chicago Tribune, "The Cubs believe they've found a solution to Randy Wells' first-inning problems and may have him try something new Saturday in his next scheduled start against the White Sox. Opposing hitters have a .327 average in first innings against Wells, who seems to settle down thereafter as he did Sunday in Houston after giving up five straight hits to start the game. Manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild talked about the situation on the plane ride to Pittsburgh. "We've come up with a couple little things we're going to tinker with," Piniella said. One, he said, is to have Wells throw the same pitch sequence in the bullpen that he will when he faces the first two or three hitters to start the game. Another idea, Piniella said, is to have Wells go directly from the bullpen to the mound instead of stopping in the dugout. "I think we're going the try the first approach first," Piniella concluded, "so he'll be focused on the first three or four hitters he's going to face." Wells limited opposing batters to a .261 average in 2009, but they're hitting .290 against him this year. The biggest difference is right-handed hitters, who have gone from .221 to .288. Wells said Sunday's game shouldn't be lumped in with earlier first-inning fiascos against Pittsburgh and St. Louis, respectively, because it started with an infield hit and a blooper. "That's fine," Piniella said. "Anyway, we'll play around with it a little just to increase the focus. Nothing drastic."
Want an easy icon?
All you have to do is beat a few guys at picking Sunday's winners.[/url]