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James Russell may get the call to start for Cubs

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



If Wednesday’s double dose of Cubs injury news means that James Russell gets pressed into starting duty in five days in Houston, the left-hander says he welcomes what could be a formidable challenge.

‘‘If that is a real possibility, great,’’ said Russell, whose efforts to make the opening rotation lasted long enough in spring training to stretch to 60-70 pitches in mid-March. ‘‘They haven’t really told me anything about it. I’m sure we’ll talk in the next couple of days or so, but if that were to happen, that’d be pretty cool.’’

With fourth starter Randy Wells (forearm) and fifth starter Andrew Cashner (shoulder) both headed to the disabled list in the next few days, Class AAA starter Casey Coleman already has been tabbed to take one of their spots — likely making his season debut Sunday in Milwaukee.

Plans haven’t been finalized for filling the fifth spot, but the one option already discussed is stretching out Russell.

‘‘We’re talking about starting him on that Tuesday in Houston,’’ said manager Mike Quade, who would next need a fifth starter on April 18 at home against San Diego. ‘‘Nothing’s been decided, but he did do that some this spring, and he’s done it before. . . . A stretch-out for him is three or four innings. That’s not ideal. So that’s probably one of the things we’re going to talk about. But he’s in the mix for sure.’’

Another possibility is right-hander Thomas Diamond, who’s scheduled to pitch Class AAA Iowa’s opener today, which would put him on a natural fifth day Tuesday, against a mostly right-handed Houston lineup. The Cubs could wait for today’s outcome to make a decision.

Veteran Todd Wellemeyer, a non-roster invitee to spring training, still hasn’t progressed enough from a hip injury to be a factor, and the Cubs have no immediate plans to seek help from outside the organization — nor any intention of revisiting the $11.5 million spring flop Carlos Silva.

Because they have until Tuesday for that roster move, the Cubs might use the extra spot on the roster to add an extra reliever for the weekend series in Milwaukee.



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