MESA, Ariz. — Cubs left-hander Brad Wieck flicked his glove, signaling to his receiver that a breaking ball was coming. He clasped his hands together, squinting at the glove in the sun, ready to race down the mound of artificial turf.
Six months ago, Wieck underwent heart surgery for atrial fibrillation, but on Tuesday, he said, “everything is fine.”
The Cubs’ 6-foot-8 left-handed reliever practices this week at Bell Bank Park, where the Major League Baseball Players Association has set aside courts and facilities for players to practice during the lockout. Wieck pitched a bullpen Tuesday, alternating with fellow Cubs pitchers Kyle Hendricks and Justin Steele.
“It stinks right now that we’re on lockdown,” Wieck said in a chat with the Sun-Times. “But at least with this alternative site, we can be surrounded by guys doing the same thing as us, with the same goal.”
Wieck acknowledged that he measures his excitement about his progress in his health because he’s been through it before.
“At the same time, I had a few health issues, and I came back from all of them,” he said. “So, I just had this mentality of, it’s not going to stop me.”
In February 2020, Wieck underwent a heart ablation procedure to treat atrial flutter. He pitched in a major league game in late July, but then landed on the IL with a hamstring strain.
The following summer, Wieck played 15 major league games before landing on the injured list in July with an irregular heartbeat. Her second procedure required a longer recovery.
“That one, they had to punch a hole in my heart and go to the left side of my heart,” he explained. “So they had to put me on blood thinners for three months so that I didn’t develop a blood clot in my heart.”
The surgery itself was minimally invasive. Wieck’s cardiologist told him that ten years ago his same condition would have required open-heart surgery.
Now Wieck’s schedule has him throwing two paddocks a week. When asked when he could be ready for spring training at the earliest after MLB announced the end of the lockout, Wieck had his answer before the question ended: