3/26 Cubs extra bases
The Cubs don’t have a designated long relief pitcher but manager Mike Quade will rely on James Russell, Marcos Mateo and Jeff Samardzija for that role.
Instead of picking one as the long man, Quade says he expects Russell, Mateo and Samardzija to be able to throw 40 pitches in a game and go at least two innings. Russell and Samardzija have both started in the past. The other pitchers in the ‘pen — Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, and John Grabow — will most likely be used for one inning or a specific situation.
* There are still four catchers in camp but the Cubs are expected to break with Geovany Soto and backup Koyie Hill on the final 25-man Opening Day roster. Welington Castillo and Max Ramirez have both been injured. They’re insurance in the final week before the regular season opens April 1.
Castillo has been bothered by a sore right index finger, which limits his ability to throw. He was expected to open at Triple-A Iowa; the Cubs want him to get more experience calling games. Ramirez has battled a sore left wrist and if he does well in batting practice on Sunday, he may get in a game.
* In other injury news, infielder Augie Ojeda, who already was assigned to the Minor League camp, had his back spasms flare up again. He’s day to day.
* In his first start as the No. 5 starter Andrew Cashner gave up five runs (three earned) on seven hits and one walk over five innings. He struck out five. The right-hander settled down after a rough first inning, retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
— Carrie Muskat