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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Samardzija already in midseason form

By Jesse Rogers

Cubs
Jeff Samardzija (from left), Edwin Jackson and Matt Garza had various outings Wednesday.
MESA, AZ -- Day 2 of workouts for the Chicago Cubs featured the top of the rotation pitchers Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson throwing bullpen sessions side by side as the Cubs top brass looked on.

All three are at different levels of readiness for spring training with Samardzija being the most polished. Garza is coming off an elbow injury.

Here are notes from Mesa:

Samardzija Sharp

As the top three starters threw their bullpen sessions next to each other it became obvious who was dialed in the most: Samardzija was throwing bullets.

"Three different guys right now," Dale Sveum said. "Garza is just making sure everything is going good ... Edwin is more 80 percent, he's working on things. And Samardzija you would have thought this was playoff time. That was as dominant a bullpen (session) as you're going to see. It was pretty impressive to watch him throw those 30 pitches."

Roster Competition

Sveum addressed the competition for roster spots. There aren't many.

"One, two in the bullpen," he said. "There's a couple of spots on the bench ... On total you're talking about competition for four or five spots on the roster."

Sveum singled out non-roster invitee Brent Lillibridge as a player who becomes valuable because he can play the infield and the outfield. Right now the Cubs don't have a back-up first baseman so Lillibridge and the catchers in camp could get time there as well.

"It gives you a huge edge, especially in the National League and especially when our centerfielder and right fielder are left-handed. He runs very well and can play first."

Bunting Competition

The brackets are nearly set for the Cubs second annual bunting competition. The 64th and final competitor will come from the front office or baseball staff.

"Jed (Hoyer) and Theo (Epstein) are going against each other in the first round," Sveum said. "I do know that."

Anyone with pro baseball experience isn't allowed to compete so director of scouting Jason McLeod won't be in it. The "tournament" will start once the full squad reports this weekend. David Dejesus was last year's winner.