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Cubs' Wells confident he'll improve on '09 mark
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/13/2010 6:58 PM | Updated: 1/13/2010 6:59 PM

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Don't look now, but Randy Wells finds himself the Cubs' No. 3 starting pitcher right now.

That's quite a difference from this time last year, when Wells wasn't in the major-league picture.

Wells, who came up from the minors last May, was a pleasant surprise for the Cubs, going 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA. Now he is looking for better things this year.

"Everybody talks about the sophomore slump," Wells said Wednesday as the Cubs opened their caravan tour in Chicago. "I don't believe in it. I'm a guy who spent 7-8 years in the minor leagues. I got the opportunity. I caught a shooting star. I grabbed a hold of it. I'm not letting go."

With Ted Lilly recovering from shoulder surgery and likely to miss most of April, Wells is the No. 3 man behind Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster.

With the Cubs having traded for veteran starter Carlos Silva and with Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Marshall in the pitching mix, Wells says he is not taking his job for granted.

"You've got to keep it real," he said. "People who lose focus a lot are the ones who struggle."

Meet the owners: Fans attending this weekend's Cubs convention at the Chicago Hilton will get a chance to grill the team's new owners.

Four members of the Ricketts family, including point man Tom Ricketts, will host a session called "Meet the Owners" at 9 a.m. Saturday. A convention pass is required for attendance.

Cubs TV announcer Len Kasper will host the session. After that, the baseball operations team of GM Jim Hendry, assistant GM Randy Bush and field manager Lou Piniella will face the fans. Later Saturday, team president Crane Kenney and the business people will hold a session.

Homegrown camp: The Cubs have invited 19 players to spring training as nonroster men, and 12 are homegrown players.

Among the nonroster invitees are former No. 1 draft picks Brett Jackson, Andrew Cashner and Josh Vitters. Another former No. 1 pick, outfielder Tyler Colvin, made his major-league debut late last year and is on the 40-man roster.

Other notable invitees are shortstop phenom Starlin Castro, who doesn't turn 20 until late March and has an outside chance of making the team.

"We're starting to get the guys to the level where they've deserved and have earned the right to go to spring training," said farm director Oneri Fleita. "I think they'll show well."

New jobs: The Cubs have flip-flopped the jobs of two coaches. Ivan DeJesus moves from the role of special assistant to Lou Piniella to first base coach, switching jobs with Matt Sinatro, who will take over many of the administrative duties previously handled by DeJesus.