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

Decision looms on Cubs' Samardzija

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It's the biggest day in Cubs camp for six to 10 players on the bubble for roster spots or specific roles.

And perhaps for no player more than Jeff Samardzija, who makes his first start since a clunker against Colorado when he faces the Cleveland Indians Wednesday at HoHoKam Park, possibly with a starting rotation job on the line.

``Performance is everything,'' manager Dale Sveum said. ``We've got decisions to make tonight, and part of his performance today will have something to do with those decisions. ...

``There's a good chance he could face a lot of left-handers in this lineup like we had to the other day [against Cleveland in Goodyear], and [Rodrigo] Lopez did a good job of throttling their bats, changing their bat speed around. Samardzija's going to have to do that kind of job today if they throw out seven lefties at us like they did the other day.''

Randy Wells, who looms in the middle of the rotation decisions if Samardzija doesn't rebound Wednesday, won't pitch in relief Wednesday as originally planned. He'll keep his scheduled Sunday start, during which Sveum said he wants to get Wells to ``as many pitches as we possibly can.''

Sveum, his staff and key front office officials plan to meet Wednesday night to finalize all but maybe one or two roster spots, including a starting rotation that has four guys already in: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Chris Volstad and lone lefty Paul Maholm.

The toughest decision might come down to the backup catcher job, between more experienced, stronger-armed Welington Castillo and lefty-hitting Steve Clevenger.

``They're both catching the ball well, throwing the ball well - the work ethic, enthusiasm, everything has been fantastic,'' Sveum said. ``Welly had one heck of a game [Tuesday against the Reds]. He had to deal with that last inning, blocking a lot of sliders and getting through that last inning wasn't easy. But he handled it well and did a great job.''

Either way the Cubs go with the two prospects, Sveum said he believes he'll have a pair of guys on his roster capable of starting for almost any team in the majors - which necessarily puts the pressure on veteran Geovany Soto to produce consistently to keep his playing time.

``A lot of times performance dictates how much you're going to play,'' Sveum said. ``Obviously, he's our No. 1 catcher, but performance has a lot to do with extra playing time as well.''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 28, 2012 1:18 PM.

Cubs to set most of roster Wednesday was the previous entry in this blog.

Wells sent to minors, Samardzija in rotation as Cubs nearly set roster is the next entry in this blog.

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