3/4 Cubs Sunday wrapup

Rodrigo Lopez may not be one of the first names you think of for one of the spots in the Cubs rotation but the right-hander is definitely one the front office is considering. Lopez, who has been working with Rick Sutcliffe on his slider, retired the six batters he faced in two innings on Sunday in the Cactus League opener and did so efficiently. Sveum likes Lopez’s experience.

“He’s definitely in the mix,” Sveum said of Lopez. “I think everybody is in the mix for those last couple spots. We don’t know what’s going to happen with [Jeff] Samardzija. It’s going to be an interesting month.”

Samardzija will start Wednesday when the Cubs travel to Surprise to face the Royals. The others competing for a spot in the rotation include Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, and Randy Wells. Anyone who doesn’t make the rotation does not automatically go into the bullpen, Sveum said. That’s also to be finalized in the next month of games.

* Lopez was 6-6 with a 4.42 ERA last season with the Cubs. He signed a Minor League contract on Jan. 9.

“I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen or who I’m battling against,” Lopez said. “I just felt like, go out there and do my thing.”

He was hoping to get a chance to return to the Cubs.

“I love the team and love the city,” Lopez said. “I’ve played for a few teams already but the experience I had last year playing for the Cubs at Wrigley, it doesn’t have any match in baseball. They were interested early, since November they were calling. I felt they really wanted me to go back. I know there’s a lot of competition here but I’m just going to do my thing and they know what I’m capable of doing.”

* The Cubs were able to steal two bases in the second inning on Sunday but in the fourth, David DeJesus and Darwin Barney were both picked off first base by A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki.

“[First base coach Dave McKay] was like, ‘Focus on balls in the dirt,'” DeJesus said. “[He said] ‘Once the ball is in the dirt, get in the shuffle and go.’ We both had good jumps on it but [Suzuki] picked them both. We were working on something there. Kurt is a quality catcher. It was a great job by him.”

Despite the outs, Sveum liked what he saw because it’s part of his plan to get the players to be more aggressive.

“The first instinct was right and the second instinct got you thrown out at first base instead of second base,” Sveum said. “If we had won that game today, we would’ve won it because of baserunning.”

Guys were advancing on fly balls and making the Athletics hurry their throws, for example. Sveum wants the players to be aggressive and trust their first instincts

“I’ve told these guys your second instinct will always be wrong,” Sveum said.

* Carlos Marmol pitched one inning in Sunday’s Cactus League opener and retired the side in order. The right-hander will be used in save situations later this spring. Said Sveum: “You want guys to face other teams good lineups and those kind of guys, the Kerry Woods and those guys, at the beginning they’ll pitch earlier in the game just to get them out. You don’t want them sitting around, standing around.”

* In Sunday’s 12-10 loss to the A’s, Darwin Barney and Jae-Hoon Ha had two hits and two RBIs each.

* Three finalists remain in WGN Radio’s contest for the next Cubs song. Fans can listen to the songs on wgnradio.com and vote on which will become the official WGN Radio Cubs song of 2012. The finalists are “Cubs Win” by 17 Candle; “Let’s Go Cubbies” by The Fold; and “Rockin’ Right at Wrigley” by Derrick Procell. Voting will end at 8:30 a.m. CT on March 16.

* At least 10 players took part in extra hitting with coach Rudy Jaramillo after Sunday’s game, including Anthony Rizzo, Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur, and Steve Clevenger.

* The Cubs bunting tourney resumes on Monday with sweet 16 matches.

— Carrie Muskat


Do you put much thought and consideration into these Cactus League games? I just don’t see a guy like Lopez making the starting five.

The guy is a very valuable spot starter and if your starting pitcher gets knocked around early he can take you into the 6th or 7th and give us a comeback chance.

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