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Manager Dale Sveum: Cubs’ roster may be known in a week

Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum throws batting practice as spring training continues for Cubs Fitch Park Tuesday February 28 2012

Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum throws batting practice as spring training continues for the Cubs at Fitch Park Tuesday February 28, 2012 in Mesa, Arizona. | TOM CRUZE~Sun-Times

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS

Cubs manager Dale Sveum (left) said he might have his roster decisions done by Monday. What’s left to decide:

STARTING ROTATION (2 SPOTS)

Favorites: Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad (to join Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm).

Top challengers: Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez.

UTILITY/BENCH (1)

Favorites: Joe Mather (to join Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson, Blake DeWitt).

Top challengers: Alfredo Amezaga, Tony Campana, Adrian Cardenas.

BACKUP CATCHER (1)

Favorite: Welington Castillo.

Top challenger: Steve Clevenger.

BULLPEN (3)

Favorites: Rafael Dolis, Blake Parker, Trever Miller (to join Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, James Russell and long man who falls from rotation battle).

Top challengers: Scott Maine, Marcos Mateo, Manny Corpas, Lendy Castillo.

Updated: April 21, 2012 8:13AM



PEORIA, Ariz. — Cubs manager Dale Sveum says his opening roster could be all but finalized by this time next week.

It’s not clear whether that’s a good sign or bad sign for a club that’s coming off back-to-back lousy seasons and that didn’t add any known-quantity players.

For now, it mostly appears to be a sign of how well Jeff Samardzija and Chris Volstad have pitched — and maybe that this organized new manager and his coaching staff have a good, specific idea of what they’re looking for.

‘‘Probably by the end of the week, next Monday, is when we’ll have pretty much everything done,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘You won’t have it etched in stone because there’s still another week left in spring training, but you’ll have it pretty much locked down one way or the other.’’

That would mean he’d have his roster decided a full 10 days before the April 5 opener at Wrigley Field against the Washington Nationals.

‘‘There might still be something that’s maybe a flip-of-the-coin-type thing,’’ Sveum said, likely referring to the last bullpen spot or two and maybe the backup catcher job. ‘‘But in our heads, I think it’ll pretty well be done.’’

The favorites for the last two rotation spots are Samardzija and Volstad, with either Randy Wells or Rodrigo Lopez likely taking the long-man spot in the bullpen.

Sveum said over the weekend that Samardzija is all but locked in. ‘‘And Volstad couldn’t pitch any better than he has,’’ Sveum said Monday.

Versatile Joe Mather, a non-roster invitee who played most of his career in the St. Louis Cardinals system, has a wide lead in the race for the final bench spot.

‘‘The guy’s doing everything he possibly can,’’ Sveum said before Mather worked a deep count in his first at-bat Monday and then singled home two runs.

He also has played five positions and says he can play two more. ‘

‘‘And he suits our lineup [as a right-handed hitter], with all the corner guys being left-handed.’’

With Rafael Dolis looking like the second setup man behind Kerry Wood, that leaves two bullpen decisions (not counting the long man). Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger have impressed Sveum as the backup catcher candidates.

NOTES: Second baseman Darwin Barney returned to the lineup after sitting out the weekend with tightness in his left side and singled and doubled in a pair of first-inning at-bats. He played three innings in the field and left before a third at-bat, as planned.

† Third baseman Ian Stewart (balky quadriceps) is expected to play Tuesday.



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