8/21 Let the auditions begin

The Cubs rotation today only has two pitchers remaining from Opening Day in Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad. Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm have been traded, and Matt Garza is on the 60-day DL with an elbow injury.

“It’s completely different from Opening Day,” manager Dale Sveum said Tuesday, stating the obvious.

On Tuesday, lefty Chris Rusin made his Major League debut. It’s part of the Cubs’ audition of young talent to determine who comes back in 2013.

“The last time I saw Rusin pitch was pretty impressive against the Angels in Spring Training,” Sveum said. “Hopefully, he can keep the ball down like he did that day and show us what he can do at the big league level.”

The Cubs haven’t decided whether Rusin will finish the season with them or go back to Triple-A Iowa.

“There are a few different scenarios, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” Sveum said. “There’s a chance he could stick.”

If Spring Training started tomorrow, who besides Garza and Jeff Samardzija would make the rotation? That’s still to be determined. Rusin, Brooks Raley, and Justin Germano are among the candidates for spots.

“They’re young guys who are still learning how to get Major League hitters out with the stuff they have,” Sveum said. “That’s what the evaluation point of all this is. That’s what we have, that’s the depth we have and we’re going to evaluate it going forward. They have the ability to do it. Now it’s the understanding how to do it on a daily basis against Major League hitters.”

What type of team does Garza expect to see next spring in Mesa, Ariz.?

“It doesn’t matter — as long as I get to come back,” Garza said. “It’ll be younger. You can tell that right now. There will be lot less experience. If you’re going to do the full rebuild, you’re going to have to have a year or two like that. Right now we’re going through some aches and pains — growing pains — but we’ll be fine.”

Can Garza and Samardzija lead the staff?

“Somebody’s got to do it. Why not us?” he said. “We’ll have hungry guys and I feel we’re still going to have [Alfonso] Soriano, and he’ll be a big force out there for the young guys to look at. The bullpen, we’ll have [Carlos] Marmol, and he’s a guy who’s had great success and who’s shown he can come back. We’ll have some guys in spots to lead the way, so I think we’ll be all right.”

— Carrie Muskat

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