James Russell is an old-school reliever. He grew up in big-league clubhouses. He wants the ball. He doesn’t think the Cubs have overworked him.
Russell hasn’t appeared in a Cactus League game yet and doesn’t expect to throw off a mound again until next week. But the 28-year-old left-hander thinks he needs to throw only five or six innings to be ready for Opening Day.
“Typical dead arm,” Russell said Wednesday at Cubs Park. “I deal with it every year. I’m pretty sure 95 percent of pitchers deal with it in spring. It’s just being precautionary, slowing it down a little bit.”
The Cubs have pushed Russell, using him 151 times across the last two seasons. He went 7-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 2012 but finished last year at 1-6 with a 3.59 ERA and eight blown saves.