Cubs GM Jed Hoyer still working on bullpen
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org March 29, 2012 10:28PM
Third baseman Joe Mather reaches into the stands to catch a foul pop off the bat of Yonder Alonso in the third. | Lenny Ignelzi~AP
Updated: May 1, 2012 8:26AM
MESA, Ariz. — The way the Cubs see it, they have six more days of Hot Stove League action before they finish building their bullpen.
It’s the only roster business left before the opener after the team finalized the rest of its roster with a series of moves Thursday.
‘‘We’re going to spend the next week solidifying the bullpen,’’ said general manger Jed Hoyer, who would like to add a left-hander to a pen that otherwise has one. ‘‘We’re OK if we go north with the guys we have. We’re not ready to make those final decisions yet.’’
Closer Carlos Marmol, setup man Kerry Wood and lefty James Russell are locked in, probably with spring bullpen star Rafael Dolis. Rodrigo Lopez is the only long reliever left in camp, and Shawn Camp and Manny Corpas seem to have the inside track on the two other spots if the Cubs don’t make a move.
The Cubs have made center fielder Marlon Byrd available in trade talks, according to major-league sources, and $2.7 million starter Randy Wells could be available after being sent to Class AAA on Thursday.
The Cubs looked into re-acquiring lefty Tom Gorzelanny from the Washington Nationals this month, a major-league source said. Baltimore Orioles lefty reliever Dana Eveland, who pitched well for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, is available after being designated for assignment.
‘‘I just think at this point we’re probably doing a disservice if we say, ‘Here’s where we are,’ ’’ Hoyer said, ‘‘because things can change pretty rapidly, and we do have a week left.’’
Bench won’t rest
A message was relayed to the bench players when the position-player roster was set:
‘‘Don’t ever think you’re just a bench player and you’re not going to be pushing somebody to play every day,’’ manager Dale Sveum said. ‘‘Sometimes you just push somebody out, and you start playing every day, too. We’ve got some guys that can hit on the bench, and you never know.’’
Versatile Joe Mather, who Sveum said plays all three outfield spots ‘‘above average,’’ is one of those guys, as well as Jeff Baker and perhaps rookie backup catcher Steve Clevenger.
‘‘Geo [Soto’s] our No. 1 guy,’’ Sveum said, ‘‘but Clevenger can obviously bring a lot to the table with his left-handed bat. Playing time: Are you going to say two days a week, three days a week? I think that’s up to Geo and the schedule we have [and matchups].’’
Clevenger, who beat out pal Welington Castillo for his first big-league opener, didn’t seem to have that on his mind. ‘‘I’m just speechless,’’ he said. ‘‘Just trying to soak the moment up.’’
The Cubs optioned five players to Class AAA Iowa: Castillo, outfielder Dave Sappelt and pitchers Wells, Travis Wood and Scott Maine. Casey Coleman also was told he’s going to Iowa, but the move wasn’t official yet.
◆ Four non-roster players were reassigned to minor-league camp: catcher Blake Lalli, pitcher Blake Parker and infielders Matt Tolbert and Edgar Gonzalez.
◆ The Cubs released catcher Jason Jaramillo, who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.