An unlikely contributor

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for FIVE MINUTES LOGO Cubs reliever David Patton is that one fish that swam against the current and made it upstream this past spring training. He is, as manager Lou Piniella calls him, “that Rule 5 kid.”  

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Rule 5 draft, it is held annually on the last day of the winter meetings. In sum, certain minor-leaguers, if they aren’t protected by their parent clubs, can be selected in the Rule 5 draft.The 6-3, 205-pound  Patton was drafted from the Rockies by the Reds, who subsequently traded him to the Cubs. In Patton’s case, he was taken in the major-league phase of the draft, so he has to remain with the big-league club all year or he has to be returned to his parent club along with a cash compensation.

For a team that won 97 games, it’s rare that a Rule 5 player would make the team, let alone stick with the major-league team all year. Last year the Cubs brought big right-hander Tim Lahey to camp, drafted from the Twins organization. Lahey was returned.

And yet, here the Seattle native sits on the Cubs active roster. While it’s been a couple of rough outings for him a couple of days ago and tonight against the D-Backs, Patton possesses the devil-may-care attitude and laid back attitude that benefits not only a reliever, but also a Rule 5 kid who has never pitched above Class A.

Vine Line: Are you surprised at all that you’d make a veteran team that won 97 games last year?

David Patton: I’ve said all along that I’ve got a new opportunity with a new organization. They saw something they liked in me and I came ready to pitch. I had a goal to make the team and now I have the goal to help this team win games and get back to the playoffs.

VLDoes it sit in the back of your mind that the organization can’t send you down, so you might end up going back to Colorado?

DP: I can’t worry about that. All I can do is worry about what’s between the lines. That’s all I can control. Any other decisions, I can’t make those for them.

VL: You’ve got a curveball with which many scouts have been impressed. How did you develop such a good bender?

DP:Growing up I didn’t pitch very much. Then my senior year in high school, I started pitching and fooling around with the curveball. I liked throwing it and as with anything, you practice more something that you like. So over time it just came to be my pitch. I feel good with it.

VL: How does the Cubs organization compare to Colorado? Or is it hard to answer because you hadn’t yet made it to Denver? That’s a weird question, I know.

DP: Yeah, I can’t really make the comparison. It’s such a new environment, something I’ve never experienced before. I can only go out there and be ready to pitch and help our team win.

VL: Were you nervous your first time out? 

DP: I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but I was definitely excited. I had a big adrenaline rush going. It was a thing I had dreamed of since I was a little kid. It sunk in after the first inning, though. My parents didn’t make the trip, because it was a last-minute type thing, but they were very excited, too.

–Mike Huang

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