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Cubs’ trade rumors focus on Marlon Byrd

The Cubs are said be listening offers from Nationals Braves involving outfielder MarlByrd. | Brian Kersey~AP

The Cubs are said to be listening to offers from the Nationals and Braves involving outfielder Marlon Byrd. | Brian Kersey~AP

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Updated: April 28, 2012 8:16AM

MESA, Ariz. — The Brett Jackson era for the Cubs could start sooner than many might have thought when the organization’s top outfield prospect was sent to the minor-league side of camp Friday.

Center fielder Marlon Byrd’s name is making the rounds in the final-week-of-spring hot stove as the Cubs try to bolster a thin bullpen and teams such as the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves try to shore up outfield needs.

One major-league source said the Cubs offered Byrd — who’s in the final year of a contract that pays $6.5 million in 2012 — to the Nationals for pitching, with the Braves also believed to be discussing Byrd. Another source said the Cubs don’t appear to be shopping Byrd as much as listening to offers.

Cub officials wouldn’t comment on Byrd or any other specific players, but general manager Jed Hoyer said as far back as last week that in the week or so leading up to the April 5 opener, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we made a move.’’

Even if Byrd is traded, the Cubs potentially have enough depth among Reed Johnson, Joe Mather and possibly Tony Campana to piece together a center-field-by-committee if they choose to have Jackson start the season at AAA Iowa for more seasoning.

On the other hand, manager Dale Sveum made it clear Jackson didn’t make the roster only because the Cubs have veteran starters across the outfield, and Jackson needs to play every day.

“Brett Jackson is ready to play here for sure,’’ Sveum said, adding he’d be “surprised’’ if Jackson weren’t with the club before rosters expand in September. “He’s who’s going to put the pressure on us to get him here one way or the other.

“It was one of the harder things I’ve had to do so far managing,’’ he said of sending Jackson out. “It is a very difficult thing to tell somebody to go down to the minor leagues and put pressure on us to get you back here. … He brings so much to the table. This’ll be my ninth year coaching in the big leagues, and he’s the best young player I’ve seen in a major-league camp, and I’ve gotten to see some good young ones. He’s the full package.’’

Marmol returns

Closer Carlos Marmol, who survived an injury scare when he left his last Cactus League game with an apparently nerve-related hand cramp, pitched a scoreless inning with good command against the San Diego Padres on Monday.

In his first appearance since the hand cramp Tuesday, Marmol got ahead 0-2 on four of the five batters he faced, giving up a one-out single and two-out walk — striking out one along the way.

“Everything’s fine,’’ he said. “I feel normal. … My body feels great. Mentally, I feel great. That’s a good thing.’’

Camp brings experience

When the Cubs added veteran reliever Shawn Camp to the roster, he immediately became the third-most experienced reliever in camp. By the end of the day, he was second to Kerry Wood after the club released Trever Miller.

Camp, who was waived by the Seattle Mariners last week, is expected to join Marmol, Wood, James Russell, Rafael Dolis and probable long man Randy Wells in the bullpen. That probably leaves Lendy Castillo, Scott Maine, Blake Parker, Frankie de la Cruz and Casey Coleman to battle for one spot.

Camp, 36, is an eight-year veteran of the American League.

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