Thursday morning's Deep Thoughts from Cubs camp:
Nearly a month into camp and the Cubs' bullpen picture looks no clearer than the day camp opened, with only Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and James Russell looking assured of jobs.
But right-handers Marcos Mateo, Blake Parker and Rafael Dolis have made strong impressions on manager Dale Sveum - along with long-relief candidate Lendy Castillo, the righty the Cubs got in the Rule 5 draft from Philadelphia.
``So there's five, six, seven guys that are capable of winning those [four] spots,'' Sveum said. ``Dolis is very impressive, being able to throw a 94-95-mph ball that sinks that much and with that kind of depth. Mateo's slider's a swing-and-miss slider. Parker as well, throws a very heavy fastball with a good slider as well.''
Those three are looking at potential short-relief roles, with Castillo joining as many as three other candidates who fall from the rotation battle in a long-relief competition.
``Castillo's been throwing great. He acts like he's been out there before, with his poise and how far he's come in the last month,'' Sveum said of the long-shot kid who's professional resume consists of just 38 minor-league appearances - none higher than Class A. ``He's got a fastball that doesn't seem to get squared up too much. ...
``It's going to be interesting.''
For those who haven't yet tired of hearing about where Alfonso Soriano might hit in a Cubs lineup that promises little certainty even into the summer, here's the latest musing from Sveum on the subject:
``I don't see him hitting anywhere else but three, four or five right now. He's proven it before. We don't have any other proven three, four or five hitters in this lineup, so it's one of those things where he'll be in one of those spots depending on how everything else falls into place.''
The subject came up because of Soriano's torrid start to the spring (9-for-17 with seven extra-base hits, including four homers).
Soriano's hitting cleanup Thursday against Arizona in a split-squad game at home.
The Cubs cut seven more players from camp, getting the spring roster down to 48.
Four were optioned to AAA Iowa: left-handers Jeff Beliveau and John Gaub, right-hander Alberto Cabrera and infielder Josh Vitters.
Two of the most highly regarded prospects in camp - outfielder Matt Szczur and shortstop Junior Lake - were optioned to AA Tennessee.
And catcher Jason Jaramillo, who hasn't been able to get in a game this spring because of a nagging quad injury, was reassigned to minor-league camp.
Thursday's split-squad lineups:
Vs. ARIZONA at HoHoKam
RF Reed Johnson
CF Marlon Byrd
SS Starlin Castro
LF Alfonso Soriano
1B Jeff Baker
C Geo Soto
2B Darwin Barney
3B Josh Vitters
P Ryan Dempster
(also scheduled to pitch: Kerry Wood, Marmol and Russell)
At COLORADO (Scottsdale)
RF David DeJesus
2B Blake DeWitt
3B Ian Stewart
1B Bryan LaHair
CF Joe Mather
LF Brett Jackson
C Welington Castillo
SS Junior Lake
P Rodrigo Lopez
(also scheduled to pitch: Cabrera, Scott Maine, Mateo, Parker)