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

Wells sent to minors, Samardzija in rotation as Cubs nearly set roster

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MESA, Ariz. - Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad, Steve Clevenger and Joe Mather are all in.

And, for now, Randy Wells is out.

Wells, a three-year veteran of the Cubs' starting rotation, was optioned to Class AAA Iowa Thursday - told he's the club's sixth starter -- as the Cubs finalized their position-player roster and starting rotation.

As expected Samardzija and Volstad make the rotation, which opens the season in this order: Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Samardzija, Volstad and lone lefty Paul Maholm.

Mather, who has played five positions and hit better than almost anyone else in camp, earned the final bench job, along with Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson.

The backup catcher job went to lefty-hitting Clevenger, who could push starter Geovany Soto for playing time, depending on Soto's performance this season, manager Dale Sveum said.

The surprise of the day was Wells, who was optioned to AAA Iowa to start everyday instead of earning the long-man job in the bullpen, as seemed probable after he made his last appearance out of the pen and has pitched well (no earned runs this spring).

``It was obviously a shock,'' Wells said. ``Just one of those things. Things didn't work out. Usually when this stuff happens you had a rough spring or haven't been throwing the ball well. ... I'm not going to sit here and lie and say I wasn't disappointed.''

Asked if he would welcome a trade under the circumstances, he said, ``I don't know. That hasn't been presented to me. I can't really talk about that. Right now I've got to focus on going to Iowa and getting on a roll.''

General manager Jed Hoyer emphasized the importance of pitching depth when asked about his willingness to trade a starter.

``Trading out of [that depth] can be complicated,'' he said. ``We definitely don't take having depth lightly.''

All that remains to be decided before opening day is the final spot or two in the bullpen - which remains in flux largely because the Cubs are still on the prowl for help from the outside, in particular for a lefty if one becomes available.

Officially, nine players were sent to the minors on Thursday, in addition to pitcher Casey Coleman, who was told he'll be optioned to Iowa to join the AAA rotation after vying for the long-man role.

In addition to Wells, catcher Welington Castillo, outfielder Dave Sappelt and pitchers Travis Wood and Scott Maine were optioned to AAA.

Four non-roster players were reassigned to minor-league camp: catcher Blake Lalli, pitcher Blake Parker and infielders Matt Tolbert and Edgar Gonzalez.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 29, 2012 11:41 AM.

Decision looms on Cubs' Samardzija was the previous entry in this blog.

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