Wells was 10-4 with a 4.02 ERA in 27 games, including 19 starts, this season for Iowa. The right-hander began the year with the Toronto Blue Jays, who had claimed him in the Rule 5 Draft. He made one appearance with the big league team on April 5 against Boston, and faced four batters, giving up one walk. That was it, and he was returned to the Cubs on April 16.
He made his first appearance with Iowa on April 19. In his 19 starts, Wells was 8-3 with a 3.75 ERA. He was named the Iowa Cubs pitcher of the year.
The timing was perfect for Wells, a native of Belleville, Ill. He was driving home and about three hours from St. Louis when he got the call.
"I was drafted by the Cubs, and grew up watching the Cubs on WGN during the day and the Cardinals at night," Wells said. "To spend six years in the organization and you fight and you fight and you fight to get here and finally the day comes, it's rewarding and a relief. But like I learned in Toronto, it ain't over yet. I have to keep going to work and show them I belong here and I can pitch here."
It's been a whirlwind year for the 26-year-old pitcher.
"It's something that didn't work out," Wells said of his brief Toronto experience. "You have to keep plugging along and getting better, and here I am."
Even though his previous Major League experience was brief, it was enough to motivate him.
"You get the taste of the big leagues and then you get shipped right down to the Minor Leagues and it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth and makes you want to get back even more," Wells said.
What made the difference this year is more consistency with his three pitches, and a better slider. He also has a sinker that he worked on in Spring Training.
Pie batted .287 with 10 home runs, 20 doubles, 11 stolen bases and 55 RBIs with the Iowa Cubs, including a .318 average with runners on.
He began the season with the big league team, but was optioned to Iowa when the Cubs signed Jim Edmonds. Pie played in 30 of the Cubs' first 40 games, and batted .222 overall. He hit .286 in his last 16 big league games.
"I made the adjustments and did what the hitting coach told me," Pie said. "I worked hard. The first month was a little struggle, but I worked a lot every day in the cage with [Iowa hitting coach] Von Joshua. I made the adjustments. I'm here, and I'm going to do the same thing I did down there."
Playing every day at Iowa definitely helped.
"I'm more comfortable at home plate, I can see the pitches better," Pie said. "It's special for me [to be here]. If the manager gives me an opportunity to play, pinch-hit, I want to show him I'm ready."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella was glad to see Pie.
"I enjoyed welcoming him to the club today," Piniella said. "He has a nice smile, friendly young man. Hopefully, we'll get him a little playing time and he can get a chance to help us, too."
In another procedural move to make room on the 40-man roster for Wells, the Cubs placed pitcher Jon Lieber on the 60-day disabled list because of a strained right foot.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.