CHICAGO -- Michael Bowden grew up a Cubs fan, watching Ryne Sandberg, and when the Red Sox designated him for assignment, he started to imagine playing for his favorite team. Little did he know, Wrigley Field would become his new home.
Bowden was acquired Saturday night from the Red Sox for Marlon Byrd. The Cubs, who will pay a significant amount of Byrd's salary, will also receive a player to be named later. Bowden was in uniform at Wrigley on Monday.
"This past week has felt like forever," Bowden said. "Every single day since the day I was taken off [the roster], I was waiting for a phone call. Just the anticipation of that and then further in the week, I saw some articles and speculation of Marlon Byrd going to the Red Sox and I got my hopes up, and talking to my wife, I was just pretending. When we got the call, it was an awesome feeling."
Bowden grew up in suburban Aurora and now lives in Oswego, which is a one-hour commute. It's a lot shorter than the drive he made from Boston to Chicago after the Red Sox designated him on April 15. He appeared in three games with Boston. Did he feel he had a fair shot?
"That's a tough question to answer," Bowden said. "I never really got a level of comfort over there. I'd go up there and I didn't know really what they wanted out of me and they threw me in a lot of different roles. I'm very grateful for it. It made me a very versatile pitcher. Now, throw anything at me, and I feel I'm prepared to tackle that. I'm grateful for the opportunity they gave me over there. I'm excited to start my career over here."
He's been working out, throwing against a wall, and he recently threw a bullpen session to a friend. Cubs manager Dale Sveum watched video of Bowden throwing three straight fastballs to Toronto's Jose Bautista, so Bowden obviously has no fear. The right-hander also is resilient.
"He's unorthodox," Sveum said. "He's got a completely different motion and release point than most pitchers. He can get it to 94 mph. He can get swings and misses up in the zone. I think the split-finger will help him a lot."
It helps that Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations, and general manager Jed Hoyer know Bowden from their Red Sox days. Bowden said he was crossing his fingers that he'd wind up with them again. When he did get the call, it was tough to hide his enthusiasm.
"I think it was the most exciting time in my career, right up there with my debut and getting drafted," he said. "This is a dream come true and I'm very blessed and extremely excited."