3/8 The Marshall plan

On Monday, Sean Marshall was the only one among himself, Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Samardzija who had already been in a Cactus League game.

“I’m the lucky one,” said Marshall, who replaced Ryan Dempster in the third inning vs. the Athletics in Phoenix. “I have the experience going into this one.”

The lefty is one of four candidates for the Cubs’ two openings in the rotation.

“I’m just going about my way and doing the same things I do every Spring Training which is get myself in the best condition to get guys out during the season,” Marshall said. “I’ve always been emphasizing and preparing to start. I can always fall back from a starter’s role to a relief role because of arm strength.”

Marshall has been used as a swingman. Would he like to be in the rotation or bullpen?

“I like starting,” the lefty said. “It’s a routine. I also enjoy coming in almost every game, [which I did] for a while last year and getting guys out in big situations. One of the most exciting games I had last year was when I came in against the White Sox in the bottom of the eighth and threw one pitch and got a double play and we won the game. That was one of my highlights from last year, besides playing left field.”

Marshall is ready in case Lou Piniella wants him back in left.

“I’m sure he sees me out there shagging,” Marshall said. “I don’t want to go diving after balls.”

“I know by the time we leave Spring Training, we’ll have the best pitching staff, best starting rotation and best bullpen. Hopefully, we’ll win a lot of games and everyone stays healthy.”

The decision may not be made until the last days of camp.

“That happened last year, too,” Marshall said. “I’ve seen it happen a couple times before. In 2006, it came down to the last day or two. It’s fine. I’m convinced I can help in any role and I’ll continue to do that as long as it gives the team a chance to win.”

Gorzelanny and Marshall are good friends. It’s tough competing against your buddy.

“I want to have somebody to play cards with,” Marshall said.

Maybe it’s a lefty thing?

“I think we do have a competitive edge,” Marshall said. “Right-handers, they’re semi-competitive. Lefties, we’re just so goofy, it’s a little bit different.”

— Carrie Muskat

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