Cubs to get good look at Colvin
Prospect makes Major League debut; Johnson activated
MILWAUKEE -- Tyler Colvin was eating at a Cracker Barrel restaurant when he got a phone call with an area code he didn't recognize. He didn't answer at first, but the caller left a message. It's a good thing Colvin called back.
Ryne Sandberg, Colvin's manager at Double-A Tennessee, was calling to tell the outfielder he couldn't go home just yet. Colvin was added to the Cubs' big league roster and made his Major League debut Monday night, starting in center field.
"He finished the Double-A season strong, and this will give us a look into our future," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I look forward to seeing him play."
Colvin wasn't the only outfielder the Cubs added Monday, one day after Milton Bradley was suspended for the final 15 games of the season by general manager Jim Hendry because of detrimental conduct.
Reed Johnson, out since late July with a fractured left foot, was activated from the disabled list and is expected to start Wednesday. Sam Fuld, who had been limited to defense only because of a sore right wrist, was cleared to hit.
"All of a sudden, from a lack of outfielders, we've got a full cast of them again," Piniella said.
Alfonso Soriano also joined the Cubs on Monday to continue his rehab following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, although he won't be playing again this season. So far, he's been able to ride a stationary bike and do some leg exercises.
"I have baby legs, no power at all," Soriano said. "I have to go little by little to get the power back. Those muscles shut down. Now I have to keep working and try to make them stronger."
So far, Soriano is encouraged about 2010.
"Before the operation, I thought I was able to play," he said. "Walking, my legs felt good, but as soon as I put weight on [my left leg], it didn't feel good. Now after the operation, I can relax and think about Spring Training next year."
He doesn't think the knee problems were related to his struggles at the plate. Soriano finished with a .241 average, 20 homers, 55 RBIs and nine stolen bases.
"I'm not looking for an excuse," he said. "I just had a bad season. I don't know what I did wrong. Maybe in the offseason, when I get my mind clear, I'll find out what I did wrong and find out so it doesn't happen next year."
Back to Colvin. The left-handed-hitting outfielder batted .300 with 14 homers, 12 doubles, seven triples and 50 RBIs in 84 games this season for Double-A Tennessee. He's been with the big league team in Spring Training, but this is a little different.
"This is a really good experience for him," Piniella said. "We'll give him an opportunity to play -- I don't know about every day -- and go from there. Hopefully, he makes a good account of himself and thrusts himself into the picture for next year."
In his first at-bat Monday against Milwaukee's Braden Looper in the first inning, Colvin delivered a sacrifice fly to help the Cubs jump out to a 4-0 lead.
"I was very surprised [to get the call]," Colvin said. "I was about to head to the airport to head home for the offseason and got the call to stay an extra day and come here."
What was most encouraging to Colvin this season was how good he felt after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his elbow last November. Now he has two weeks to show the Cubs what he can do.
"I'm just going to do what I can," Colvin said. "If they want me to start, I'll start. If they want me to come off the bench, I'll come off the bench. I'll do whatever they want me to do."
And Sandberg's advice?
"'Just stay relaxed and don't try to do anything different,'" Colvin said of the message from his skipper. "'Keep it simple.'"
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.