Saturday, March 20, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Berg on the team, Decisions on the Way, & More

Sorting Out the Bullpen
Carrie Muskat reports that Justin Berg has earned a spot in the Cubs' bullpen. He had an 0.75 ERA in an 11 game September callup last season. Prior to that, he went 6-2 with a 2.47 ERA for the Iowa Cubs. Berg will join Esmalin Caridad, John Grabow, Carlos Marmol, and the two guys that lose out of the fifth starter's competition (Silva, Gorzelanny, Marshall, or Samardzija) on the relief core. This leaves one spot left on the Opening Day pitching staff, assumming the Cubs use 12 hurlers to start the year. Rule 5 pick Mike Parisi, NRI James Russell, lefty John Gaub, and Marcos Mateo are the four guys in the mix for this last spot on the staff.

Rotation Decision Nearing
Within the next week we should find out how the starting rotation will pan out. Sean Marshall, Carlos Silva, Jeff Samardzija, and Tom Gorzelanny are all vying for starting jobs. Lou Piniella has an idea of which way he's leaning, but at this point has revealed nothing. The coaching staff will meet to discuss the roster after Monday's game. It should be interesting to see how it turns out!

Sorting Out the Bench
The Cubs have confirmed that they would like to keep an outfielder who can play all three spots because of the fact that backup outfielder Xavier Nady will be limited defensively for the first half of the season. Tyler Colvin and Sam Fuld are the leading candidates for this bench position, with Brad Snyder and James Adduci also in the mix. Jeff Baker (or Mike Fontenot), Koyie Hill, and Nady are all already members of what figures to be an experienced bench. Another veteran bat will be added primarily for pinch hitting purposes. Kevin Millar and Chad Tracy are still battling for this spot. It would appear that Micah Hoffpauir has AAA in his near future.

Injury Updates
Aramis Ramirez will get some at bats in as a DH in today's minor league game at Fitch Park. Ted Lilly will toss a side session today and then his second live BP on Monday. Andres Blanco still can't run at full speed, but he has been able to do some hitting and fielding.

Cubs Idol Winners
Justin Berg got more good news today when he found out that he was the co-winner of the "Cubs Idol" competition. He and infielder Darwin Barney were chosen out of the 8 finalists as co-winners. NFL QB Steve Young was a guest judge today along with the usual panel of Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramiez, Ryan Dempster, and Kevin Millar. Other finalists included Jim Aducci, Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, James Russell, and Brad Snyder. Berg and Barney each got $10,000 to a charity of their choice.

Today's Games
This afternoon it's a split squad Cubs team out in the valley of the sun. Half the team will host the Kansas City Royals for the first matchup of the spring between the two clubs. The other split squad takes on the Oakland A's in Phoenix. Carlos Zambrano will pitch at HoHoKam while Tom Gorzelanny tries to make his case for a spot in the rotation against Oakland.

The game against KC will be on WGN Radio. Here's the starting nine:

Theriot, SS
Barney, 2B
Lee, 1B
Byrd, CF
Baker, 3B
Soriano, LF
Soto, C
Snyder, RF
Zambrano, P

The game against the A's is on's gameday audio if you have the package. Here's the lineup behind Gorzelanny:

Adduci, LF
Kosuke, RF
Colvin, CF
Nady, DH
Hoffpauir, 1B
Fontenot, SS
Tracy, 3B
Hill, C
Scales, 2B

A good chance to see a lot of Cubs play today! That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

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