1/12 Russell, Cashner options for rotation
The Cubs will consider lefty James Russell as well as right-hander Andrew Cashner for the rotation and let them compete in Spring Training with the other pitchers on the roster. Manager Mike Quade said Wednesday he plans to talk to pitching coach Mark Riggins as well as Russell and Cashner this week while all are in Chicago for the Cubs Caravan and Cubs Convention.
Russell was a starter in the Minor Leagues in 2007 and ’08, but switched to the bullpen in ’09. Last season with the Cubs, he was used strictly as a reliever, appearing in 57 games and compiling a 4.96 ERA. The Cubs could have three lefties in the bullpen in John Grabow, Sean Marshall and Scott Maine. The rotation is very right-handed with Tom Gorzelanny as the only southpaw option.
Cashner wants to start, too. He did that exclusively in the Minor Leagues but when called up to the Cubs, was used strictly out of the bullpen and posted a 4.80 ERA in 53 games. He finished strong, with a 1.40 ERA in his final 18 appearances. The difference? The right-hander said he had better command of his fastball. He and Russell will head to Arizona next week to start training at the team’s facility.
The Cubs would appear to have a lot of pitching depth with the addition of Matt Garza to a rotation that already has Gorzelanny, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Carlos Silva, and Randy Wells. Quade said the competition is good. Who will be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter?
“I have no idea,” Quade said. “What I do know is I have three great pitchers to chose from. There are too many variables to look at but there’s no question that Garza is in the mix. We’ll take a look at ‘Z’ and ‘Demp’ and ‘Garz.'”
– Carrie Muskat