March 2012

3/30 Bullpen decisions

While all the position players on the Cubs know whether they’ve made the 25-man roster, the bullpen is still in flux. While others were bringing personal items to be packed on the truck to Chicago, relievers like Rafael Dolis must wait. He doesn’t know if he’s going to make the Opening Day roster or go to the Minor Leagues.

“They just said, ‘Pitch, do your job,'” Dolis said.

Everyone else was packing their gear. How long will it take Dolis to pack?

“I can take five minutes, three minutes,” Dolis said, laughing. “I can take one minute — or just leave all my clothes.”

There are still 11 relievers who are technically on the spring roster. We know Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and James Russell are in. However, Casey Coleman has been told he’s going to Triple-A Iowa and Frankie De La Cruz also was in the Minor League camp and not expected to make the Opening Day roster. The list of relievers remaining includes Manuel Corpas, Alberto Cabrera, Shawn Camp, Lendy Castillo, Rodrigo Lopez, and Rafael Dolis.

— Carrie Muskat

3/30 Opening Day lineup?

Dale Sveum may be testing his Opening Day lineup on Friday when the Cubs face the Dodgers at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. Next Thursday, the Cubs play for real at Wrigley Field when they host the Nationals. The forecast for Chicago next week calls for sunshine and temperatures in the low 60s. Perfect. Here’s Friday’s lineup, where it’ll be near 90:

RF David DeJesus

2B Darwin Barney

SS Starlin Castro

1B Bryan LaHair

LF Alfonso Soriano

3B Ian Stewart

CF Marlon Byrd

C Geovany Soto

P Ryan Dempster

— Carrie Muskat 

3/29 Cubs position players

Here’s the breakdown of the 13 Cubs position players who will be on the 25-man roster Opening Day:


Geovany Soto

Steve Clevenger


Bryan LaHair

Darwin Barney

Starlin Castro

Ian Stewart

Jeff Baker

Blake DeWitt


David DeJesus

Marlon Byrd

Alfonso Soriano

Reed Johnson

Joe Mather

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Padres 12, Cubs 11

What went right:

Joe Mather kept on hitting with a double in the third. He also drove in a run in the four-run second and scored on Blake Dewitt’s single. Mather, now batting .418, also made a nice catch of a pop up in foul territory in the third. Chris Volstad helped himself with a two-run single. Kerry Wood made his first appearance since March 18, threw five pitches to one batter, struck him out, then got a fist-pump from pitching coach Chris Bosio and his day was done.

What went wrong:

Volstad was roughed up in the third, giving up four runs on five hits and one walk and blowing a 4-0 lead. He also served up a two-run homer in the second. Alberto Cabrera took the loss, giving up three runs on four hits in 1 2/3 innings.


“We just kind of said ‘thanks’ to each other, for me personally to get the opportunity to do it and they were happy I didn’t take it for granted and just show up and go thorugh the motions. It felt good. … You don’t know how many opportunities you’re going to get to start. Once you become a reliever and have success, a lot of times that’s where you end up in your career. I really wanted to give this a full head of steam and a full shot.” — Jeff Samardzija on getting the news he made the Cubs rotation

Injury report:

Marcos Mateo continues to rehab from right elbow soreness. He will not be ready for Opening Day.

This and that:

* The Cubs spring camp roster was trimmed to 31 on Thursday. Welington Castillo, Randy Wells, Scott Maine, Travis Wood and Dave Sappelt were optioned to Triple-A Iowa, while Blake Lalli, Blake Parker, Matt Tolbert and Edgar Gonzalez were assigned to the Minor League camp.

* The Red Sox sent first baseman Jair Bogaerts to the Cubs to complete the compensation for Theo Epstein, named president of baseball operations in late October. Bogaerts, 19, has played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. His brother, Xander, is one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization.

The Cubs now have sent Chris Carpenter and Minor League pitcher Aaron Kurcz to the Red Sox. However, Carpenter revealed on Wednesday he will undergo surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.

“It’s certainly something we had no knowledge of,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday about Carpenter’s injury. “I don’t think he had any elbow issues for the last two years. It’s unexpected and unfortunate.

* Joe Mather and Blake Dewitt were both told they will be on the Cubs Opening Day roster, but the bullpen is still in a state of flux. The Cubs have to decide on Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo and who will be the long man. It won’t be Casey Coleman who was told Thursday he will be starting at Triple-A Iowa.

* Steve Clevenger, a converted shortstop, will be the backup catcher, beating Welington Castillo for the job.

“I’m kind of excited, kind of pumped up, ready to go,” Clevenger said. “I feel good about it. I’m speechless right now, trying to soak the moment up. It was a good choice in my career to be a catcher and now it’s paying off.”

Up next:

Ryan Dempster will face the Dodgers on Friday at HoHoKam Park, making his final tuneup before Opening Day. In four Cactus League starts, the right-hander has given up six runs on 16 hits over 14 2/3 innings. The game will be broadcast on

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Volstad gets news, then goes to work

Chris Volstad had been nearly perfect this spring, giving up one run over 10 innings in three Cactus League games. On Thursday, the Padres roughed him up, scoring six runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings, including four runs in the third.

“Today wasn’t that great,” Volstad said. “Everything was two outs [when the runs scored] and it was one pitch each of those innings and I could be out of that. I’m kind of glad it happened. I was fighting my body a little bit today and had that feeling of fighting myself. It’s good to get that out of the way.”

He did help himself with a two-run single in the second.

“Those hits probably won’t keep coming like they have been but the bunts, I’ll take those all day,” he said.

The right-hander found out before the game that he had made the Cubs rotation and will start April 9 against the Brewers at Wrigley Field. Volstad will make one more start in a Minor League game Tuesday at Fitch Park, then head north to Chicago.

“I’ve been waiting for the season to start for a couple weeks,” he said. “I can’t wait for it.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Kerry Wood’s quick work

Kerry Wood pitched Thursday for the first time since May 18, and threw five pitches and that was enough. The right-hander entered the Cubs game in the fifth with one on and two outs, threw five pitches to James Darnell and struck him out. That was enough. As Wood came off the field in Peoria, he got a fist pump from pitching coach Chris Bosio and a handshake from manager Dale Sveum. Wood was expected to pitch two more times before the Cubs break camp.

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Coleman headed to Iowa

Casey Coleman’s name was not on the list of players sent down on Thursday but he did meet with manager Dale Sveum and is aware he’s not going to be in Chicago on Opening Day.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Coleman said. “I know I put myself in position to make the team but in the end, they need me more as a starter. I can’t argue with them about that. They’re the ones making the decisions. Wherever they need me, I’ll try my best.”

So, Coleman will join Randy Wells and Travis Wood in the Triple-A Iowa rotation. Last year, Coleman filled in as the Cubs scrambled to replace Andrew Cashner and Wells after they were sidelined with injuries.

“It’s a good thing that we have more pitching, more depth,” Coleman said. “I hope this spring showed guys I can do both. I can go up there in the bullpen as well. That was the opportunity they gave me and I hope I proved I could do it.”

He appeared in eight Cactus League games and made one start. Coleman served up runs in only one outing, March 14, against the Brewers. Take out that one game, and he has given up zero runs on seven hits over 11 innings.

— Carrie Muskat 


3/29 Samardzija earns spot in rotation

Jeff Samardzija set school records in touchdowns, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns at Notre Dame, has played in bowl games, and in front of 100,000 fans. But on Thursday, he scored a personal goal, securing a spot in the Cubs starting rotation. The right-hander was named as the No. 3 starter, following Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm round out the starting five.

“This could be right up there,” said Samardzija, who has pitched primarily in relief for the Cubs since he was drafted in 2006. “It’s definitely at the top because I feel I went through college and I just played. It was natural and I didn’t have too many setbacks. I didn’t play much freshman, sophomore year because I was 185 pounds. I didn’t have too many things that I’ve really had to earn and I had to earn this and it feels good. To put that work in and see it pay off, it’s pretty nice.”

Samardzija had a strong spring with the exception of one outing against the Rockies when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits over four innings. On Wednesday, he faced the Indians and threw six scoreless innings, giving up three hits. Cleveland did the same as Colorado, and overloaded the lineup with left-handed hitters.

On Thursday, Samardzija was called into Dale Sveum’s office to get the news.

“We just kind of said ‘thanks’ to each other, for me personally to get the opportunity to do it and they were happy I didn’t take it for granted and just show up and go thorugh the motions,” Samardzija said. “It felt good.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Cubs complete Theo comp

The Red Sox sent 19-year-old first baseman Jair Bogaerts to the Cubs to complete the compensation deal for Theo Epstein. Bogaerts has played the last two seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He’s a right-handed hitter.

The Cubs sent pitcher Chris Carpenter to Boston earlier, but Carpenter is headed for surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs.

“It’s certainly something we had no knowledge of,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Thursday. “I don’t think he had any elbow issues for the last two years. It’s unexpected and unfortunate.

“It’s obviously something you never want to happen,” Hoyer said. “With any trade, you want both sides to feel good. It’s not a great thing to have happen both for Chris or the Red Sox.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/29 Wells: “It’s a shock”

Randy Wells was surprised to be told he was headed to Triple-A Iowa and not going to be on the big league roster.

“It was obviously a shock,” Wells said. “Things didn’t work out. I’ve got to go down and get stretched back out and try to get built up and make some starts and hopefully be ready when they need me.”

Did he feel he got enough of a chance?

“It’s not up to me,” Wells said. “I can’t force my way into the lineup. They obviously had a plan and they have a direction they want to go and I’ll go down and work hard and continue to get better and hopefully when they need me, I’ll come up and be ready.

“Usually when this happens, you’ve had a rough spring or haven’t been pitching well,” he said. “I feel I’ve thrown the ball well in a variety of different roles. I’m not going to sit here and lie and be the guy who says I’m not disappointed because I am. It is what it is. It’s a point in your career where you have to buckle down and you know what you have to do. It’s a wakeup call to see it’s not that easy to stay here. Hopefully next time I get called up, it’s the last time I have to deal with this.”

Wells knows the importance of having depth on the roster. He was hurt after his first start last year with the Cubs and the team had to scramble to find replacements.

“You never wish anything like that happens on an organization or a team, what happened last year, but the reality is things happen and you’ve got to be ready when they call your name,” he said. “In 2009, the same kind of thing, I went down to Triple-A, started off good and came up and never looked back. We’ll just see what happens.”

— Carrie Muskat