The Cubs announced today that they have selected the contract of lefty James Russell from Triple-A Iowa and designated right-hander Blake Parker for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Chicago’s press release also notes that outfielder Chris Denorfia has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, and recently claimed righty Anthony Varvaro has been added to the 25-man roster.
The 29-year-old Parker has seen Major League action with the Cubs in each of the past three seasons, working to a 3.68 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 30.6 percent ground-ball rate. Most of that work came in an excellent 2013 season during which he racked up 46 1/3 innings in the Chicago ’pen. Parker’s velocity dipped from 91.9 mph in 2013 to 90.5 mph last year, however, and his ERA spiked to 5.14 in 21 innings . His K/BB numbers from that season and FIP, xFIP and SIERA all indicate that his ERA was quite misleading, however. Parker had thrown 3 1/3 innings this season at Triple-A but hadn’t appeared since April 15. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets that he has been on the disabled list with an elbow injury.
Russell, of course, recently returned to the Cubs after being released by the Braves in Spring Training. The 29-year-old was traded from Chicago to Atlanta at least year’s trade deadline, alongside teammate Emilio Bonifacio, in exchange for catching prospect Victor Caratini. Aside from that brief appearance in Atlanta, Russell’s entire career has been spent in a Cubs uniform. Over the past three seasons, he’s notched a combined 3.26 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 179 2/3 innings while holding opposing lefties to a .235 average and .289 OBP, though they’ve still slugged .392 against him — good for a .157 ISO.