2/28 Cubs Tuesday notebook

The Cubs will tune up for Cactus League play with two intrasquad games at HoHoKam Park Friday and Saturday. Cubs manager Dale Sveum will handle one of the teams and Triple-A Iowa manager Dave Bialas may be assigned the other squad. The games will last between five to six innings each.

Chicago opens Cactus League play Sunday against the Athletics. Do wins and losses in the Cactus League count?

“I don’t care where you’re playing,” Sveum said, “winning is winning and you want to win all the time. At the end of the Cactus League, will the record matter? Of course not. I think the bottom line is to stress to beat the other team every time you step on the field. It’s not always what the final score dictates. Can you go home at night and say you kicked the other team’s butt besides the final score of the game? You can win a lot of games and a guy can hit a walkoff, two-run homer on a great pitch and you lost the game but you really won 8 2/3 innings, too. There’s a difference between winning and losing sometimes and how you get it.”

* Paul Maholm, who had been slowed by the flu, beat Rodrigo Lopez to complete the first round action Tuesday in the Cubs bunting tournament. Maholm was able to handle a 40-pitch bullpen session on Monday but felt a little weak. He wasn’t able to eat for two days but said the problem was “nothing major.”

* Casey Coleman could fill a spot as a starter or as a long man in the Cubs bullpen.

“He’ll be built up as a starter and compete,” Sveum said of the right-hander, who was 3-9 with a 6.40 ERA with the Cubs and 5-2 with a 3.65 ERA at Triple-A Iowa.

“The long man [spot] is open in the bullpen,” Sveum said. “[Coleman] brings a lot of depth to the rotation. He’ll be built up to compete for a job, any job that might come up.”

* Geovany Soto, sidelined with a strained groin, is improving but wasn’t expected to be ready by the Cactus League opener on Sunday.

“[The athletic trainers] said he came in and was feeling better,” Sveum said. “It’s still one of those things where he’s a week away from being on the field all day long.”

The Cubs do have to decide on a backup catcher for Soto this season. Koyie Hill held that job for the last five seasons, but is now in the Cardinals camp. The candidates include Welington Castillo, who has played just 11 big league games over two seasons; Jason Jaramillo, who has played for the Pirates the last three years; Steve Clevenger, a former shortstop who was called up last season for the first time. Other catchers in camp include Minor Leaguers Blake Lalli and Michael Brenly.

“It’s probably the first time in camp I’ve had so many quality catchers,” Sveum said. “You have to keep your eye on them to make that decision when we break camp.”

— Carrie Muskat


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