MESA, Ariz. -- It's time to play the roster game. Several weeks into camp let's look at who's in and who's out and who's on the fence for the Chicago Cubs:
Analysis: If the Cubs carry 12 pitchers, as expected, it leaves one spot open in the bullpen. Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon has the inside track since he can't just be sent to the minors while Michael Bowden is another contender. Wood makes the roster considering the injuries to Garza and Baker and his progress at the end of last year.
Analysis: The Cubs have already said Brett Jackson is starting the season in Triple-A Iowa and Junior Lake isn't going to make the jump from Double-A. It leaves Stewart, Lillibridge, Sappelt and McDonald for the final three spots. Lillibridge is in due to his super-utility status and considering the lack of natural third baseman in camp, Stewart should still make it, if healthy. Dale Sveum raved about McDonald after he homered on Monday.
"He's killed left-handed pitching in his career," he said. "He's in the mix for one of those spots. He's the ultimate professional, really works hard, he's just a really great guy."
So it sounds like McDonald might have the edge over Sappelt except Sveum has also praised Sappelt in the same way, especially in regards to hitting left-handed pitching.
Bottom line: There's one spot in the bullpen and one on the field up for grabs unless Stewart simply gets cut then maybe Lake or Alberto Gonzalez, signed in the offseason, might have a chance.
Sveum re-iterated his Monday stance that Matt Garza is a few days away from throwing after injuring his lat during a batting practice session 10 days ago.
"Talking to the trainer, there is an above average chance he'll start tossing in a couple days," Sveum said.
Sveum said Lake is unique. "To me he's the opposite, he looks better in games than when he's doing his work," Sveum said. "It's like the game speeds up for him in batting practice but slows down in the game."