Matt Swarmer has looked comfortable on the mound through two career big-league starts since the Cubs promoted him from Triple-A Iowa last week.
Meanwhile, fellow starter Wade Miley is making sure the 28-year-old Swarmer is feeling comfortable within the Cubs’ clubhouse as he gets acclimated to the big leagues.
Swarmer’s locker doesn’t have a nameplate yet, so Miley took matters into his own hands, pasting three pieces of white tape in its place. Written across is “FORREST GUMP.”
“I was like, ‘This is different.’ I’ve never had someone call me Forrest Gump before,” Swarmer said with a chuckle.
“I don’t really know how I got it, honestly. He said I look like Forrest Gump.”
Said Miley: “He looks just like him.”
Miley checked with Swarmer to make sure he was OK with the tape job before proceeding. And while it was a playful act by the 12-year veteran, it was done with the best intentions in mind.
“The big thing is it seemed like he had some anxiety when he got here,” Miley said. “I just want to make him feel comfortable, at the end of the day.
“The days of hazing young guys, and making them uncomfortable, I think we're probably past that.
“He's a happy going guy. I just wanted to keep him in that element and make sure he understands that he belongs here and he's one of us. We love him and he's obviously pitching great.”
Indeed. Swarmer has impressed since the Cubs called him up from Triple-A Iowa a week ago.
He’s thrown two quality starts, helping the Cubs navigate their recent difficult stretch of 11 games in nine days.
Swarmer picked up his first career win on Saturday, allowing one run and two hits in six innings against the Cardinals.
He’s the first Cubs pitcher since 1939 to throw six-plus innings and allow one or fewer earned runs in his first two career big-league games.
“He's been huge for us,” Miley said. “He doesn't have any fear out there. He goes out there and attacks the zone.
“He goes right at guys; he's not nibbling around the zone. He's going after you. There's something to be said about that.”
With the way Swarmer is pitching, he may never take the placeholder nameplate down.
“I don’t mind. I thought it was pretty funny,” Swarmer said. “I’m probably going to keep it there until someone puts my real name there.”
"He said I could call him anything as long as I didn’t call him late for dinner," Miley said. "So we ran with it."