It’s Decision Time for the Chicago Cubs

According to multiple reports, Dale Sveum and his coaching staff will meet following Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians to discuss the Opening Day roster. Sveum said Tuesday that 95 percent of the decisions will be made Wednesday night with announcements expected Thursday.

The Cubs’ skipper reiterated Tuesday that the guys need to know where they are beginning the season. Plus, Sveum would like to have the last five days after the announcements to use the players in the roles they are going to be in when the season begins.

The back-up catcher’s position and the spots in the pen behind Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, James Russell, Shawn Camp and Rafael Dolis appear to be still up in the air … and the announcement on the two or three openings in the pen might not be made Thursday

And, of course, a few more decisions might have to be made if the Cubs are able to trade Marlon Byrd

Marlon Byrd
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have reportedly been listening to trade offers for Marlon Byrd since they took over baseball operations. According to a report from the Sun-Times, Marlon Byrd’s name is making the rounds in the final week of Spring Training … and the Braves and Nationals are both still interested.

According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are trying to bolster their thin bullpen while the Nationals and Braves are trying to shore up their outfield. The Sun-Times reported that the Cubs offered Byrd to Washington for pitching.

If the Cubs trade Marlon Byrd, that does not necessarily mean Brett Jackson would begin the year with the big league team. The Cubs could decide to start the season with a Joe Mather, Reed Johnson and Tony Campana mix in center which would allow Brett Jackson to gain more experience at the Triple-A level.

While the report from the Sun-Times about Brett Jackson possibly beginning the year with the I-Cubs, even if Marlon Byrd is traded, will likely enrage a portion of the fan base, please keep in mind Dale Sveum was really impressed by Brett Jackson.

Dale Sveum on Brett Jackson from the Sun-Times:

“Brett Jackson is ready to play here for sure. It was one of the harder things I’ve had to do so far managing,” he said of sending Jackson out. “It is a very difficult thing to tell somebody to go down to the minor leagues and put pressure on us to get you back here. … He brings so much to the table. This’ll be my ninth year coaching in the big leagues, and he’s the best young player I’ve seen in a major-league camp, and I’ve gotten to see some good young ones. He’s the full package.”

Opening Day Roster
The Cubs still have 40 players in camp and it appears players such as Matt Tolbert, Edgar Gonzalez, Blake Lalli, Blake Parker , Tony Campana and Alfredo Amezaga are longshots, at best, to make the roster. Manny Corpas is still in the mix for the pen, but he appears to be on the outside looking in as well.

Joe Mather, Blake DeWitt and Shawn Camp are reportedly on the verge of making the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. If all three start the season on the active 25-man roster, the Cubs will have to create two spots on the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39 players.

For those that thought Casey Coleman would be starting the season in Iowa’s rotation, not so fast. Casey Coleman is still in the mix for the long man role out of the pen, along with Randy Wells and Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez is in camp on a non-roster invitation and in order for Lopez to make the team the Cubs would have to create another spot on the 40-man roster. Lopez signed a minor league deal, which gives the Cubs options.

Unless Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer can pull off a trade or two, the Cubs appear to have only three spots left to be announced … the back-up catcher (Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger), a long reliever (Randy Wells, Casey Coleman, Rodrigo Lopez) and a middle reliever (Frankie De La Cruz, Lendy Castillo, Manny Corpas, Scott Maine).

Position Players: Bryan LaHair, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Ian Stewart, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, David DeJesus, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, Reed Johnson, Blake DeWitt and Joe Mather (one open position)

Pitchers: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Rafael Dolis, James Russell and Shawn Camp (two open spots in the bullpen, three if Camp does not make the team).

News, Notes and Rumors
According to a report from Cubs.com, Marcos Mateo is continuing to rehab from right elbow soreness but he will not be ready for Opening Day.

According to Bruce Levine, a number of teams have asked the Cubs about the availability of Randy Wells.

According to Bruce Levine, Steve Clevenger is likely going to be the backup to Geovany Soto.

Kerry Wood is still on track to return to Cactus League action on Saturday against Albert Pujols and the Angels. Wood has not pitched in a Cactus League game since March 18 but did some light throwing Monday and is scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday.

Well, there’s the update … only eight days until Opening Day

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Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt