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Heilman will get shot at Cubs' rotation spot
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Aaron Heilman


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Published: 1/29/2009 12:01 AM

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The Cubs added a pitcher to their rotation mix Wednesday, and his name isn't Jake Peavy.

Instead, it's right-hander Aaron Heilman.

Heilman, a longtime favorite of Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, comes to Chicago from the Seattle Mariners in a trade for infielder Ronny Cedeno and lefty Garrett Olson, whom the Cubs obtained for Baltimore on Jan. 18 in a trade for outfielder Felix Pie.

The 30-year-old Heilman pitched in relief for the New York Mets last season, going 3-8 with a 5.21 ERA and 3 saves.

When the Cubs open spring training, he will be thrown into the mix for the fifth starter's spot along with lefty Sean Marshall and right-handers Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija.

"We feel really, really good about our rotation right now, the way it sets up, obviously, with (Ryan) Dempster, (Ted) Lilly, (Carlos) Zambrano and (Rich) Harden," said assistant GM Randy Bush, filling in for Hendry, who was traveling.

"Then you take Aaron Heilman and throw him into the mix with Sean Marshall, Samardzija, Chad Gaudin. Obviously, some of those pieces fit into the bullpen if they're not in the rotation."

Heilman, who was traded from the New York Mets to the Mariners as part of a three-team trade in December, seemed to relish the chance to start.

"I certainly love the opportunity to get a chance to start again," said Heilman, a Notre Dame product and a native of Logansport, Ind. "It's something I always enjoyed doing and feel I can still be very successful at."

Last season he pitched 76 innings, giving up 75 hits and 46 walks while striking out 80.

"I characterize last season as kind of an aberration," said Heilman, who is 22-33 with a 4.24 ERA lifetime.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella apparently had seen enough of Cedeno, who appeared in 99 games last year. Since coming to the big leagues in 2005, Cedeno repeatedly confounded the organization with what it perceived to be less-than-heady play on the field and questionable work habits off it.

Popular speculation had been that the Cubs acquired Olson to package in a trade with San Diego for ace righty Peavy. Bush said the door always is open for talks but that Peavy has not been discussed since the original discussions died at the winter meetings.

"You certainly can't close your eyes, and you can't ever say, 'Oh, we're done,' " Bush said. "We're not going to do that now. You can't do that.

"We've had no talks about Jake Peavy since they were well documented during the winter meetings. There's been nothing to add with that. No talks. There's been no talks with that, and I don't anticipate anything happening with that."