CHICAGO — Dillon Maples called his father last year and told him he was thinking about quitting baseball for good.
This time, he called to say he was headed for the majors.
Maples was promoted to the Chicago Cubs on Friday, adding another chapter to a whirlwind year for the right-hander. He began this season with Class A Myrtle Beach, but he put up good numbers and quickly climbed through Chicago’s minor league system — all the way to the World Series champions.
“It’s been a crazy year, but I’m ready for this,” Maples said.
The Cubs also activated reliever Justin Grimm from the 10-day disabled list and promoted catcher Victor Caratini and infielder Mike Freeman from Triple-A Iowa. To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handers Seth Frankoff and Jose Rosario were designated for assignment.
Grimm had been sidelined by an infection in his right index finger. He made two rehab appearances with Iowa, allowing one run in two innings.
Active major league rosters can expand beyond 25 players in September.
The 25-year-old Maples went 1-2 with a 1.96 ERA in 17 appearances with Iowa. Maples, who is known for his wipeout slider, had 100 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings over three minor league stops.
“He has a special ability to spin the ball, both curveball and slider, and just really trusting those pitches I think is the biggest difference,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “Listen, I think it’s a really fun moment for us to see a guy like that, that was a high-profile guy, went through ups and big downs where he might even hang it up, and for him to be here today and get a call-up, those are the special moments that you try to enjoy.”
Maples was selected by Chicago in the 14th round of the 2011 draft. He also played for Myrtle Beach last season, but finished the year at Class A South Bend.
Maples said he “had lost passion, lost drive” when he talked to his dad about leaving the game. He eventually decided to keep playing and cited improved preparation as one of the biggest reasons for his success this season — earning a completely different phone call with pops.
“I just remember calling him last year, so it was only appropriate that he would be the first one I call and tell,” Maples said before Chicago’s 2-0 victory over Atlanta. “My mom was in the car so she found out right away. Heard her scream, so it’s definitely been a crazy run for all of us.”
Outfielder Leonys Martin, who was acquired in a trade with Seattle on Thursday night, is expected to join the Cubs on Saturday. The NL Central leaders will have to make another move with their 40-man roster when Martin arrives.
The 23-year-old Martin was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma last week, but he has 114 steals in 606 career major league games with the Rangers and Mariners. As part of the trade, Seattle agreed to pay the Cubs $681,000 on Sept. 15, covering most of the $821,585 remaining in Martin’s $4.85 million salary thus year.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon “always asks us for a guy that can steal a base, a guy that can play outfield defense in September and hopefully we can play well enough to play in October,” Hoyer said, “and Martin provides that. Good baserunner, good base stealer, good outfield defender.”
Hoyer said the Cubs also had conversations with Detroit about Justin Verlander, but they never went very far. The 34-year-old right-hander was traded to Houston on Thursday night for three minor league prospects and a player to be named or cash. The Tigers are paying just over $17 million of the approximately $60 million Verlander is owed.
“I think Detroit kind of liked that offer all along,” Hoyer said. “I think they were pretty focused on Houston all along and so because of that, because they had a deal they liked that they sat on for a bunch of weeks, I think that we never got that deep into it.”
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