Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Cubs roster: Tracy in, curse-buster out

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Maybe they really don't believe in curses.

When the Cubs made the decision on the final roster spot overnight, they took the left-handed hitter with a good pinch-hitting track record and more defensive versatility over the guy with all the famous clubhouse intangibles and the curse-busting track record from Boston.

That means former Diamondbacks starting third baseman Chad Tracy makes the Cubs' bench, while the popular Kevin Millar was released Tuesday morning as the Cubs' finalized their 25-man roster earlier than they have in recent memory

``It was tough,'' said general manager Jim Hendry, whose relationship with Millar goes back about 15 years to their Florida Marlins days. ``There was no doubt that the guys that made it, they earned it. And Kevin's a high-character guy. WE've got a lot of high-character guys in that clubhouse. We don't have a bad guy.

``He knew before camp started it was kind of a long shot, and early on nobody was really taking charge. ... Kevin's a pro. I think he knew that I agonized over it. We ended up having about a half-an-hour conversation. Very professional. He's a guy that you'd always want in your organization. I'm not here to say he's done, but he knows down the road that he's a potential employee here. He'd be a great coach. He'd be good in a lot of roles. He's a tremendous human being, and I think he helped some guys in the time he was here even though he's not getting on the plane Saturday.''

In the clubhouse before players were informed of the decisions, Millar, 38, spoke of the reality that if he didn't make it he could be facing the end of his career. And he admitted that after a decent start this spring, he may have pushed himself to try to do too much in some recent at-bats. ``Human nature,'' he said.

Tracy's chances got a boost when lefty-hitting Tyler Colvin earned the fifth outfield job. With Xavier Nady unable to throw full strength from the outfield early in the season, Colvin figures to be a late-game replacement and double-switch option a lot early in the season.

Tracy gives the Cubs another lefty bat in those cases for later in the games. He's a .302 hitter in 99 career plate appearances as a pinch-hitter (.384 OBP and five homers).

He also provides defensive insurance at third against day-to-day injuries to Aramis Ramirez.

He also doesn't turn 30 until May.

That doesn't mean he hasn't sweated out his chances this spring. ``Sure,'' he said. ``You never know what to think. I've never been in this situation before. This is a first for me. As a kid when you're doing the whole big-league-camp thing, you really don't expect to make the team. But there's expectations as you progress in your career, and it was a little different. I wasn't used to these emotions and kind of stress I had this spring.

``Hopefully, this is just one of those things in life where you learn and you learn to deal with it, and hopefully it's behind us.''

The other moves made to get the roster down to 25 (plus injured pitchers Ted Lilly and Angel Guzman) included outfielder Sam Fuld and first-baseman/outfielder Micah Hoffpauir being optioned to AAA Iowa and catcher Chris Robinson being reassigned to minor-league camp.

Here's the final roster:

SS Ryan Theriot
RF Kosuke Fukudome (L)
1B Derrek Lee
3B Aramis Ramirez
CF Marlon Byrd
LF Alfonso Soriano
2B Mike Fontenot (L)
C Geovany Soto

STARTING PITCHERS - RH Carlos Zambrano, RH Ryan Dempster, RH Randy Wells, RH Carlos Silva, LH Tom Gorzelanny. (Note: LH Ted Lilly, who opens on the DL, is expected to return during the April 19-22 series in New York).

BULLPEN - Closer Carlos Marmol, LH John Grabow, RH Esmailin Caridad*, LH Sean Marshall, RH Jeff Samardzija, RH Justin Berg*, LH James Russell*.

BENCH - C Koyie Hill (SW), 2B/3B Jeff Baker, OF Xavier Nady, OF Tyler Colvin (L),
1B/3B Chad Tracy (L).

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Colvin should be the starting left fielder, but we all know why he isn't. Hopefully, the kid continues to produce like during the spring and leadership is compelled to take that POS Soriano out of the line-up altogether. The Cub's century plus World Series drought has much to do with massively over-paid under-acheiving players just like Soriano!

I don't know, mikef. Certainly Colvin has looked great this spring,but Soriano has been around and generally performed superbly for a long time. I suspect Colvin will go downhill as soon as the pitchers figure out his weaknesses,and if that happens, I think I'd go with the proven veteran. Look at what happened to Soto after a remarkable start.I was actually happier to see Tracy make the team. With Ramirez's history of injuries, having a substitute third baseman who can pound the ball and stand out defensively is a solid comfort. He also has done well at first, and D.Lee has been a bit injury-prone lately, so Tracy is like double indemnity.

Some people have a short memory when it comes to Soriano. His first year with the Cubs he carried the team into the playoffs. He did the same thing in his second year.

He is not a machine. He is a human being. I don't like it when he does not produce, but when he gets on a hot streak he carries this team.

He plays for a "Team" and he plays against Pitchers that are paid to get him out. It's simple people! He is a part of a Team. Get of the man's back.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 30, 2010 3:15 PM.

Cubs rookie Colvin in -- now where does he play? was the previous entry in this blog.

Cubs great Williams to get Wrigley statue is the next entry in this blog.

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