8/28 Open audition

Mike Quade isn’t the only one auditioning for a job. So are Andrew Cashner and James Russell, and the two kids made a good impression Saturday night. It’s been a rough go at times for the pair, two of five rookies in the bullpen.

“They’ve got the stuff, that’s not the question,” birthday boy Randy Wells said of Russell and Cashner. “It’s just gaining experience and getting confidence. This game is all about confidence, I don’t care what anybody says. I’m a prime example of when your confidence gets a little busted, it’s tough and you start doubting your stuff and doubting your abililities and wondering if you’re supposed to be here. That’s a tough thing to overcome.

“These guys are beaming with confidence and they have their swagger going and I think they’re going to be really good pitchers for a long time to come,” he said.

Russell did give up a single but struck out the side in the seventh, including Joey Votto, who had homered leading off the fourth off Wells. Cashner got three quick groundouts in the eighth.

The Cubs have counted on Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol all season but are looking for some of the rookies to emerge. Russell and Cashner did that.

“You hope you can bring them in in a clean inning and they don’t have to do too much,” Quade said. “They make your decisions easy or tough and they played well tonight and made it easy for me.”

Cashner admits it hasn’t been smooth sailing.

“I definitely hit a little bump in the road,” Cashner said. “I’ve never really been beat this bad before. Lately, I’ve been throwing the ball well and I’ve got a lot of confidence and I’m throwing it at guys and saying, here it is, go ahead and hit it.”

Which means no more nibbling.

“I’ve got five weeks to make the team,” the right-hander said. “I don’t feel like I’ve made the team for next year. I’ve got five weeks to prove I can pitch here and help the team next year.”

Quade can say the same.

“You guys asked me if it’s an audition for me,” said Quade, now 4-1 since taking over for Lou Piniella on Monday. “Absolutely. Any time you show up here, it’s an audition. Whether or not you pitch your way into this or that or the other thing is determined by your performance. … Every one of these kids is absolutely auditioning. It’s a great opportunity but you’re being watched and evaluted daily as am I.”

Wells cast his ballot for Quade for 2011.

“Lou was great and obviously he had some stuff to deal with and Quade stepping in, I think he’s the right guy for the job,” Wells said. “He’s seen a lot of us, we’ve played for him in Triple A [Iowa]. He’s a personable guy. I’m sure he’s auditioning, too.”

– Carrie Muskat

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