Cubs interested in Nationals lefty John Lannan
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com April 5, 2012 11:10PM
Geovany Soto congratulates Ian Stewart (left), who scored the Cubs’ lone run on Marlon Byrd’s single in the fourth inning. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: May 7, 2012 8:19AM
The Cubs aren’t done putting together their early-season roster.
Still on the lookout for pitching help in particular, the Cubs, according to a major-league source, inquired again about Washington Nationals left-hander John Lannan, who asked for a trade after being sent to the minors this week when he lost the Nats’ fifth-starter job to Ross Detwiler.
The Cubs already had talked to the Nationals about lefty pitching, including Lannan and former Cub Tom Gorzelanny, the source said, with Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd included in those discussions.
The Nats sent mixed signals Thursday about Lannan’s availability, with manager Davey Johnson telling reporters, ‘‘We’re not trading him.’’
Said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo: ‘‘The last thing I told [Lannan] was, ‘You’re going to help us in the big leagues this year or someone else in the big leagues this year.’ ’’
The Cubs won’t talk about specific personnel plans, but team president Theo Epstein acknowledged the fluid nature of the roster this first week of the season.
‘‘There’s opportunity out there the first week of the season for teams that are willing to tinker a little bit because a lot of players go through waivers, and you can get some players through waivers,’’ he said. ‘‘Once we get a few days into the season, we’ll be set and have some stability.’’
LaHair sits opener
First baseman Bryan LaHair said his back was much improved but not quite well enough for him to make his scheduled start during his first Opening Day in the big leagues.
LaHair, who hasn’t played in a week, is expected to be available off the bench when the series resumes Saturday and return to the starting lineup Sunday.
While disappointed to miss the opener, LaHair said, ‘‘I’ve been kind of preparing myself mentally the last few days to just be ready whenever I’m ready, and the most important thing is not to go backward.’’
Starting in his place was Jeff Baker, making his first Opening Day start since 2005, when he opened as the Colorado Rockies’ rookie third baseman.
The Cubs announced a series of moves to set the 25-man roster for the opener, including adding three players to the 40-man roster: infielder Blake DeWitt, outfielder Joe Mather and reliever Shawn Camp.
Needing to clear two 40-man spots to make room, the Cubs put right-hander Marcos Mateo (elbow) on the 60-day disabled list and waived left-hander John Gaub, who was claimed by the Tampa Bay Rays.
In addition, pitcher Casey Coleman and outfielder Tony Campana were optioned to Class AAA Iowa.
Only a number
The Eamus Catuli sign is back on top of the old Lakeview Baseball Club building across Sheffield, but the numbers signifying more than a century of Cubs failure are gone since new ownership took over the building earlier this year.
Asked whether he prefers the absence of such a reminder, Epstein said, ‘‘I’ll just say the park looks beautiful, whatever is here or isn’t here. It looks great today.’’
‘Home’ opener for Rizzo
Rizzo was more familiar with Wrigley Field than his Cubs counterparts as a native Chicagoan who grew up on Waveland Avenue.
‘‘This is about my 25th Opening Day here,’’ he said. ‘‘I skipped a lot of school to come here. This is a cathedral to me.’’
The Nationals usually haven’t come to Chicago until later in the season. This was the first time any team from Washington, D.C. — including the old American League Nationals and Senators and expansion Senators — opened the season on either side of Chicago.
Contributing: Toni Ginnetti