Haren to make Cubs debut Wednesday

Haren to make Cubs debut Wednesday

MILWAUKEE -- New Cubs pitcher Dan Haren posted on Twitter that he had landed in Milwaukee, and the right-hander will make his first start on Wednesday in the series finale against the Pirates.

This is a key month for the Cubs, who are trying to secure a playoff spot. They'll face the two teams ahead of them in the National League Wild Card race, the Pirates and Giants, starting Monday.

"This is the tough month to get through, August," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "You've got to show up every day and play. Everybody gets a little bit fatigued, mentally and physically. I've explained to the guys, once you get to September, if you're in that hunt, you find the energy every day. The weather starts to break and it gets cooler. Plus, you show up and you're right there and have this opportunity. [August] is the month you have to manufacture it a little bit."

Maddon will try to keep things loose. Maddon has something planned for the middle of the month, but he wouldn't offer any hints. The Cubs will be encouraged to wear onesies on the flight home from Los Angeles on Aug. 30.

"It is fun and games, it's not life and death," Maddon said. "You've wanted to do this since you're 6 or 5 or 4 [years old]. You wanted this opportunity to be a Major League player, you might as well enjoy it."

Hector Rondon has picked up saves in his last three outings, but he's not the closer, even though that was his job at the beginning of the season. Maddon moved Rondon out of that role and decided to go with matchups rather than one pitcher. It's worked so far, plus helped ease Rondon back into late inning situations.

"Any situation they want to put me in, I'm available," Rondon said. "Right now, I throw most of the time seventh, eighth, ninth innings. I'll always be ready."

Rondon said he benefitted from the brief break in May and June when he wasn't used in save situations as much. Does he need to know his role?

"For me, I don't care if he tells me or tells other guys who's the closer," Rondon said. "What's most important for us is to win games."

• Catcher Miguel Montero (left thumb) will begin a Minor League rehab assignment on Sunday with Double-A Tennessee. Meanwhile, infielder Tommy La Stella, who started his rehab assignment at Tennessee last Wednesday, was expected to return to action on Sunday. La Stella, out since early April with an oblique strain, had some soreness in the same area after playing in one game.

• The Cubs added pitchers Haren and Tommy Hunter to the active roster on Saturday, and optioned right-handed reliever Yoervis Medina to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the roster. Reliever Ben Rowen had been designated for assignment on Friday.

The Cubs also announced first baseman Mike Baxter, who was designated for assignment, had cleared waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Iowa.

Did Maddon expect the Cubs to make any more trades in August?

"Of course it can, but I don't expect anything to happen," he said. "There's nothing really prominent conversation between me and the guys."

• Left-hander Clayton Richard will start Sunday in the series finale against the Brewers. It'll be his fourth start with the Cubs. In his last start at Triple-A Iowa, Richard gave up three hits over seven scoreless innings.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.