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Lefty Maine, righty Berg optioned to Iowa

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



MESA, Ariz. — While the fifth-starter drama continues to play out this spring, the makeup of the rest of the Cubs’ Opening Day pitching staff took shape with a small round of cuts Wednesday.

Among the cuts was left-hander Scott Maine. The move eliminated the option of carrying four lefty relievers and seemed to assure three in the bullpen.

Manager Mike Quade, however, suddenly suggested that he might choose to carry only two (apparently not wanting to tell second-year pitcher James Russell just yet that he’s on the roster).

Maine, in his first big-league camp after debuting last summer, was optioned to Class AAA Iowa along with right-hander Justin Berg. Non-roster righties Angel Guzman and Todd Wellemeyer, both battling back from injuries, were reassigned to minor-league camp, leaving four pitchers over the opening limit in camp.

Assuming Russell’s in, the last pitching spot could come down to a decision between Carlos Silva and Braden Looper, with Marcos Mateo (1.50 ERA, seven K’s, six innings), in particular, pushing hard. Casey Coleman is still in camp but likely headed to Iowa as rotation insurance, and Jeff Stevens gets a shot to rebound from Saturday’s rough outing.

“Guys are pitching, trying to make a club,’’ Quade said. “Until you’re gone, you’re here.”

More cuts today

Reed Johnson, who already appeared to have a backup outfield job secured, had two leadoff hits, including a bunt single in the eighth inning, and scored twice on the eve of some position-player cuts.

‘‘By Saturday, we need to get this down to where we have pretty much an ironclad deal,’’ Quade said.

The Cubs are seven over their position-player limit. That side of the roster looks set, with the exception of an infield spot. Bobby Scales, Blake DeWitt and Scott Moore are vying for that spot.

Notes

Carlos Zambrano threw 82 pitches in four innings in a minor-league game, putting him on track for one more tuneup Monday against the Cleveland Indians before he opens the season April 2 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

◆ Catching prospect Max Ramirez was to have an MRI exam on his sore left wrist Wednesday.



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