Silva, Gorzelanny make Cubs' rotation
Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny are in the Chicago Cubs' rotation - for now.
The two pitchers beat out Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall for the final two spots. Silva and Gorzelanny will effectively be competing for the No. 5 starter's job because Ted Lilly should return from shoulder surgery in several weeks. Manager Lou Piniella said he has no worries, not even about his inexperienced relief corps.
``Am I concerned about anything? Absolutely not,'' he said Friday, when he named the 12-man pitching staff that will open the season April 5. ``I said coming into camp that I liked our team ... and nothing that I've seen in spring training makes me feel any different.''
Four of the relievers - right-handers Samardzija, Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg and lefty James Russell - have a combined 93 2-3 innings of major league experience, and 27-year-old Carlos Marmol enters a season as the closer for the first time. Left-handers Marshall and John Grabow round out the bullpen.
``Very young bullpen,'' Piniella said. ``The whole bullpen (aside from Marmol) is new from what we left here with last year. But we've got some really, really good arms in there. It's a bullpen that's got a chance to get better and better as the season goes on.''
He said if GM Jim Hendry can acquire a veteran reliever, Russell likely would go to the minors.
Piniella said Grabow and Caridad will be Marmol's primary setup men. Angel Guzman had been expected to fill that role but sustained a possible career-ending shoulder injury.
Samardzija, Marshall, Silva and Gorzelanny each pitched well this spring but Piniella said the fact that Samardzija and Marshall had past success as relievers factored into his choices.
Piniella will have another rotation decision to make in a few weeks, when Lilly, who had offseason shoulder surgery, is fully recovered.
So right-hander Silva and lefty Gorzelanny each will have two or three regular-season starts to win the No. 5 starter spot. Silva, acquired in the deal that sent moody outfielder Milton Bradley to Seattle, has two years and $25 million left on his contract. Gorzelanny arrived in a trade with Pittsburgh last July.
While Marshall prefers to start but also likes pitching in relief, Samardzija has made no secret of his desire to start. The former Notre Dame football star was an impressive reliever down the stretch in 2008 but didn't make the team last spring and was hit hard when called up and used as a starter.
``He's a little disappointed,'' Piniella said. ``He thought he had pitched well enough here in spring training to stay in the rotation. I agreed with him, but we only have two spots. We're trying to leave here with the best team that we possibly can.''
The rest of the rotation includes righties Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells.
The Cubs on Friday sent seven players to the minors: right-handers Jeff Gray and Marcos Mateo, lefty John Gaub, infielders Bobby Scales and Darwin Barney, outfielder Jim Adduci and catcher Robinson Chirinos.
Scales made headlines last season when he finally reached the majors after 11 years in the minors.
Though Piniella said rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin ``has done a heck of a job,'' the manager said he wasn't ready to name the rest of the 25-man roster. Veteran utility players Kevin Millar and Chad Tracy are among those competing for jobs.