3/29 The roster, walks & runs

The Cubs are expected to trim the roster to 25 on Tuesday.

“Then we’ll be set to go,” Lou Piniella said.

There are four players — Chad Tracy, Kevin Millar, Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld — battling for one spot. Millar is the only right-handed hitter in the group and he was hitting .242. He pinch-hit on Monday and popped up to the shortstop. Tracy was hitting .243 and can play third base if the Cubs want a backup there. He also has a career .302 average as a pinch-hitter. Hoffpauir was hitting .239 this spring and can play first and some outfield. Fuld, who can play all three outfield spots, was hitting .147.

“We’ve talked about it over and over again,” Piniella said. “Everybody brings a little something different to the equation. I think we have a pretty good idea but we’ll wait until tomorrow.”

* Tyler Colvin now is batting .455 after going 1-for-4 on Monday and driving in two runs. But he hasn’t drawn a single walk this spring.

“He hasn’t swung and missed that much,” Piniella said.

It will be interesting to see who makes the adjustments first — other teams or Colvin.

“If he continues to hit and the scouts start going over the fact that ‘Hey, this young man is swinging the bat so let’s be a little careful,’ then the walks will start coming,” Piniella said. “Right now, they’re just pitching to him.”

* Lefty James Russell, who will be one of three rookies in the bullpen, hasn’t given up a run this spring in 11 innings over nine games.

* Expect Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup on Tuesday.

— Carrie Muskat


The Cubs traded Andres Blanco to the Texas Rangers . . . a great move given all of the young talent seasoning on the farm teams. Now the Rangers need a backup 1b . . . trade Hoffpauir now while his stock has not dropped to zero. I don’t think he will ever live up to his potential with the Cubs. We have enough young talent and experienced invitees to handle the load.

Tracy is redundant, as Baker can play first and third. Same for Hoffpauir, who can’t play third. Anyone over 6 feet can play first, although not as well as Lee. It looks like a choice of Fuld or Millar, and I would not want to be the person who has to make that decision.

Tracy will make it. He’s a proven pinch hitter and can do a decent job backing up Aramis should he have injuries. Tracy could have signed elsewhere but chose the Cubs and they will not let him get away.

I look for Tyler Colvin and James Russell to be tremendously bad roster decisions. If you look at their minor-league track record…aka, back of the baseball card…not very impressive at all. Very uneven.

Another lesson in not trusting Spring Stats. As soon as the reports on Russell and Colvin circulate, they will be liabilities.

I hope your wrong ryanrico, especially about Colvin. Sooner or later a team must give their top prospects a chance at the major league level. Even if Colvin’s average drops way down, which of course it will since he’s batting .450 (duh) I don’t see how he can be a liability, it’s not as if he’s as bad an outfielder as Soriano. I would agree that if he doesn’t hit near .300 he may not be the go to guy of the future and if he turns out to hit like Sam Fuld then you might as well swap him for Fuld since Fuld is the best defender of the group. Colvin must hit well or be sent down, but I am glad he is being given an opportunity to unseat one of the corner failures even if for a couple of starts per week. I don’t know much about Russel other than the Cubs did not have much choice beyond him, who do you think should have mad the club if not him?

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