Monday, March 22, 2010

Cubs spring training update

With less than two weeks remaining until Opening Day (shiver), the Cubs' roster stands at 40 players. Not many position battles have been officially decided, but some of the competitors have fallen by the wayside.

Starting pitcher 1: Carlos Silva and Jeff Samardzija continue to battle for one rotation spot. Silva has a 5.73 ERA, but had two consecutive solid starts before leaving yesterday's start early with a tight right quad (he's expected to be fine). Samardzija has a 9.00 ERA in just four innings of work; he'll start again today.

Starting pitcher 2: One spot will go to a lefty, which leaves Sean Marshall and Tom Gorzelanny fighting for it. Marshall has a solid 2.57 ERA in seven innings, while Gorzelanny's is 3.12 but he's walked eight in 8.2 innings.

Bullpen: Carlos Marmol and John Grabow were locks from the start, and it appears that Esmailin Caridad has worked his way into the 'pen as well (in 8.1 innings, he has not allowed an earned run, and has one walk and seven strikeouts). With Guzman out for the year, it's very likely that the two potential starters who don't crack the rotation will make the team as relievers. Of course, when Lilly returns (hopefully in mid- to late April), one reliever might be relieved of his spot in the bullpen.

But for now, two spots remain. A few early spring candidates have been sent down in the last week or so, including Andrew Cashner, Blake Parker, Jeff Stevens, Mitch Atkins and David Patton. The latter three all saw time with the big club last season.

Remaining bullpen candidates:

John Gaub--LH; 6.75 ERA
Justin Berg--RH; 1.50 ERA
James Russell--LH; 0.00 ERA in eight innings
Mike Parisi--RH; 4.15 ERA
Jeff Gray--RH; has not been able to pitch due to a groin injury

Second base battle: Lou Piniella suggested last week that Fontenot has a leg up on the battle to be the starter at second. Fontenot is hitting .294 this spring, while Baker has struggled to the tune of .115.

Backup outfielder: Tyler Colvin is making things tough--he's batting .442 (19-for-43) with a home run and seven RBI (second only to Fontenot). Sam Fuld still has a decent shot to make the team due to his .299 average in the majors last year, but he's batting just .125 this spring. Micah Hoffpauir, who could potentially be used in the infield and outfield, is just 8-for-34 (.225) this spring.

Backup infielder: Veterans Kevin Millar (.300) and Chad Tracy (.269) continue to duke it out, and while Bobby Scales is still on the radar, his .100 average isn't helping his cause.

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