2/21 The bullpen, backup catcher, Jackson & more

In a perfect world, Dale Sveum said he’ll have two left-handers in his bullpen but he doesn’t consider either to be the prime set-up pitcher. That’s Kerry Wood’s job.

With Sean Marshall gone via trade to the Reds, the Cubs don’t have a designated lefty set-up pitcher. Sveum didn’t sound as if he minded as long as he can call on Wood.

“There’s got to be a lot of confidence from me coming from that spot to take Kerry Wood out of the game because there’s a lefty coming up,” Sveum said Tuesday. “Those last three outs are the biggest of the game and the three outs leading up to that are even bigger. Some guys are just built differently than other people as far as those outs.”

Among the lefties in the mix are James Russell, Jeff Beliveau, Scott Maine, Trever Miller, and John Gaub. Although Russell would like to take over Marshall’s role, Sveum described him as a “matchup guy” for now.

“He’s got the ability and endurance to go two innings,” Sveum said of Russell. “It all depends on what’s going on, the score of the game, what [the opposing team has] on the bench. He’s a guy who can go two innings, no doubt about it.”

Miller is a non-roster invitee who has pitched for the Tigers, Astros, Phillies, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Rays, Cardinals and Red Sox.

“He knows how to get left-handers out and that’s a big asset to have, depending on how your bullpen unfolds,” Sveum said.

* Josh Vitters was sad to see Chris Carpenter go to the Red Sox as part of the compensation for Theo Epstein. Vitters was one of the players whom Boston was considering.

“I’m definitely glad it turned out not being me,” he said.

Said Sveum: “Unfortunately, we lost a great arm in Chris. Fortunately for him, it came from a team that wanted him really, really, really bad and I think he’ll fall into some competition over there, too, to make the team as well as he had here. As well, he gets to go to a great organization and a great city. He leaves one great place and gets to go to another one. That’s not a bad way to be traded for the first time.”

* The Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Lendy Castillo in the Rule 5 Draft and must decide by Opening Day whether to keep him on the 25-man roster. Castillo threw on the side Tuesday for the second time this spring but Sveum wants to see him in games.

“The bottom line is what’s going on in those games when he gets innings to pitch,” Sveum said. “I’ve been around plenty of people — not that he’s doing anything wrong — but some people are different pitchers when they’re on the mound than when they’re throwing in the bullpen.”

* There are six catchers in Chicago’s spring camp, including starter Geovany Soto, and the fight for the backup job appears to be a battle between Welington Castillo, Jason Jaramillo and Steve Clevenger.

“I think it’s open competition especially since the only one I’ve seen play in person is Jaramillo when he was with the Pirates,” Sveum said. “It’s great competition and they all have a lot of great attributes to bring to a team. It’ll be an interesting fight.”

Jaramillo signed a Minor League contract with the Cubs on Jan. 18 after spending the last three seasons with the Pirates.

“I talked to a few teams and had the option to pick where I was going,” Jaramillo said Tuesday. “Getting the chance to talk to Theo [Epstein] and Dale, I liked the opportunity here. I understand there’s no guarantees. It’s not something I’m not accustomed to. I battled my way for three years in Pittsburgh. The competition is nothing new to me. I’m happy to be here, they said it’s a good opporutnity. Everything I’ve seen so far — the staff, the players — it’s really exciting. I’m really excited to be here.”

* Brett Jackson, the Cubs’ No. 1 pick in the 2009 Draft, is one of the early bird position players in camp. Sveum sounded just like a fan when he said he was looking forward to seeing the outfielder in games.

“I’ll give him a lot of opportunites to play in camp and see what this young man is capable of doing against quality big league pitching,” Jackson said. “I’ll try to put him in against quality big league pitchers to see how he reacts. To watch him the other day in person for the first time, to see how the ball comes off his bat and just the athleticism, that guy bounces around with athleticism. He’s one of those guys you look forward to seeing.”

* There are motivational messages on the players’ daily schedule, such as “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” That’s the work of bench coach Jamie Quirk, who relies on a book for the daily selection.

— Carrie Muskat


Sveum better be careful when he throws around phrases like…“I’ll give him a lot of opportunites to play in camp and see what this young man is capable of doing against quality big league pitching,” …what if he earns a spot? Who’s going? Byrd? No, he’s a hustler and good influence. DeJesus? No, Epstein/Hoyer WANTED him for RF. Hmmmmmm….let the Soriano rumors begin!

Make my day!

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