2/22 The bench & Monday notebook

Lou Piniella, Alan Trammell, GM Jim Hendry and assistant GM Randy Bush met Monday at Fitch Park to discuss the Cubs’ bench and bullpen.

“There’s different ways we can go with our bench,” Piniella said. “We’ve got some decisions to make, whether we go a little more defensive-minded bench or offensive-minded. We’ll see how Spring Training plays itself out.”

The Cubs did talk to Korean pitcher Chan Ho Park, who reached an agreement Monday with the Yankees. Hendry is still looking at trade options but right now, the young pitchers in camp have a shot.

“This gives them a really great opportunity to establish themselves and get themselves in roles,” Piniella said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in the rotation with the [Ted] Lilly situation but possibly one or two of those kids can work into the bullpen situation, too. Then we have the kids like [Justin] Berg, [Jeff] Gray who we got from Oakland, and maybe another young kid who wants to pop up and get in the mix. You hate to get too young but that’s what we have in camp here.”

Those pitchers in the rotation mix include Jeff Samardzija, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall and Carlos Silva. Rule 5 Draft pick Michael Parisi also could be in the ‘pen.

Rain on Monday forced the Cubs pitchers to throw again in the batting cages. Some of the team went to HoHoKam Park to get their work in.

* The Ricketts family was expected in Mesa on Tuesday for the first full squad workout.

“It’ll be a new start for Cubs baseball,” Piniella said. “I think it’s going to be a really good thing to have a family-owned team. They’re going to care, they’re going to take pride in it. The short conversations I’ve had with Tom Ricketts is he wants to win and that’s what we want to do for him.”

Chairman Tom Ricketts was expected to speak to the players. Piniella also will deliver a message to the team.

“First of all, we’ve got some good talent here,” Piniella said. “Last year, this baseball team finished second in this division with a whole lot of injuries and some problems. I’m proud of the way they hung in there. The message [to the team] is basically, ‘Let’s stay healthy and let’s work hard this spring and let’s tack on another 10 or so wins and give ourselves a chance in postseason again.’ That’s going to be the message.”

* Rudy Jaramillo said he’s encouraging Kosuke Fukudome to communicate with him about hitting, adding “I want more feedback.” The two met Sunday and Jaramillo made a few suggestions. Fukudome applied a few of the tips on Monday.

“I think we’re getting somewhere,” Jaramillo said.

Piniella has seen nothing but positives in the batting cages.

“Rudy’s available, he’s knowledgable about what he’s talking about, he’s had success with hitters,” Piniella said. “He’s got a regimen that the players seem to like. I know when I played, I had a guy like Charlie Lau and I learned as much as I could under his tutelage.”

* Ryan Dempster hosted a few of his teammates on Sunday night to watch the U.S. hockey team play the Canadians in the Winter Olympics, and bet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the outcome. He lost a few bets.

“It’s a lot of peanut butter — trying to figure out who wants crunchy and who wants smooth will be the tough part,” Dempster said.

Dempster’s Canada team lost, 5-3, but the game lived up to the hype.

“That game yesterday was as good a game as I’ve seen in a long time,” Dempster said.

– Carrie Muskat

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