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January 30, 2009

Cubs trade is ‘dream’ scenario for Heilman

Logan native looking forward to pitching for Chicago

Like many kids raised in Logansport, Aaron Heilman grew up rooting the Chicago Cubs. But unlike any other, Heilman is a Cubs player after the trade on Wednesday sent him from the Seattle Mariners to the Cubs.

“It’s certainly been a dream of mine to be able to play at Wrigley Field as my home field and play for the Cubs,” said Heilman, a 1997 Logansport High School grad. “My first big league game I ever watched was at Wrigley Field. I remember going there as a little kid, and watching them on WGN. I always followed them all the way through. I have a lot of fond memories. Hopefully there’s a lot more to come.”

Heilman, 30, currently resides in Chicago with his wife, Kerri.

“I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to play in the same city I make my home in,” he said. “It certainly makes it extra special to live here and be able to stay at home for the year as opposed to finding an apartment and living out of a suitcase. To be able to play at home and be a part of an organization I grew up rooting for ... it’s gonna be an exciting year.”

It will also be easier for Heilman’s fans in Logansport to follow him as a Cub than it would be if he was a New York Met, his former team, or a Mariner.

“I’ll be a little closer to home,” Heilman said. “I’ve already got a few e-mails from coach [Jim] Turner and coach [Rich] Wild. Everyone has been stopping to see my parents [Joe and Deb] and congratulating them. It’s pretty neat. It’s really exciting and fun for me too. It’s nice to be closer to home.”

The Cubs are planning to give Heilman, a 6-foot-5-inch, 230-pound right-hander, a chance to compete for the fifth starter’s role in spring training. Other candidates for the job include Jeff Samardzija, Chad Gaudin and Sean Marshall. The Cubs’ top four starters include Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Rich Harden and Ted Lilly. If Heilman does not win the fifth starter’s role in spring training, he could be utilized in the bullpen.

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