ST.LOUIS -- The Chicago Cubs selected the contract of left-hander James Russell and added righty Anthony Varvaro to their bullpen on Tuesday, one day after blowing 5-0 and 8-4 leads to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Russell, 28, was drafted by the Cubs in 2007 and pitched for them from 2010-14 before being traded to the Atlanta Braves on July 31 last year. The Braves released Russell last month while the Cubs quickly picked him up in a minor league deal. He threw 9.2 scoreless innings at Triple-A Iowa before being called up on Tuesday.
Varvaro, 30, is a six-year veteran with a career 3.23 ERA who was recently designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox. The Cubs claimed him over the weekend and immediately put him in their much maligned bullpen.
“Whatever is needed,” Varvaro said of his role.
He and Russell will be asked to fill a void in the middle innings. The Cubs are tied for giving up the most runs in the sixth inning in the National League despite playing the fewest games. On Monday night they gave up two in the sixth and four more in the seventh inning en route to a 10-9 loss to the Cardinals.
“Right now we’re at 13 pitchers,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “And we’ll be at 13 until we feel like we’re rested enough to get away with that.”
To make room on their roster, outfielder Chris Denorfia was placed on the 15-day disabled list and minor league pitcher Blake Parker was designated for assignment. Pitcher Gonzalez Germen was also optioned to Triple-A Iowa.