Cubs close to finalizing opening roster after 3 cut from camp Wednesday

SHARE Cubs close to finalizing opening roster after 3 cut from camp Wednesday

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs closed in on an Opening Day roster Wednesday by optioning three players to Class AAA Iowa: pitchers Brian Schlitter and Zac Rosscup, and outfielder Junior Lake.

That leaves 28 healthy players in camp.

Manager Joe Maddon said the cuts leave three in the mix for the final two bench jobs: outfielders Matt Szczur and Ryan Sweeney, and infielder Jonathan Herrera.

Sweeney, who’s in the second year of a two-year deal, has been on the block, but team officials in recent days said they don’t anticipate any trades before breaking camp.

Without Herrera, the Cubs would have only one extra infielder in Arismendy Alcantra.

“We don’t actually have to have it,” Maddon said of an additional infielder. “But we’d like to have it of course. The fact that [Alcantara’s] so versatile makes a big difference. It comes down to pinch-hitting, what you’re going to do during the course of the game. And then you try to figure where you need the most depth. Having another extra infielder would be a good thing.”

One potential factor: Left-fielder Chris Coghlan is out of the lineup with a stiff neck, and he’s day to day. It’s not considered serious, but if that changes in the next day or two, it could open another spot.

Maddon said he expects to finalize the roster Friday. The team heads north early Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s opener, with minor leaguers playing the final exhibition game Saturday afternoon against the Diamondbacks.

Barring additional injuries or trade, the pitching staff appears set, with only left-hander Drake Britton on the outside looking in as a potential second bullpen lefty.

The roster as it stands now (non-rehabbing players listed):

Starting rotation (five): LHP Jon Lester, RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Jason Hammel, RHP Kyle Hendricks, LHP Travis Wood.

Bullpen (seven): RHP Hector Rondon, RHP Pedro Strop, RHP Neil Ramirez, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP Jason Motte, LHP Phil Coke, RHP Edwin Jackson.

Also: LHP Drake Britton.

Catchers (three): Miguel Montero, David Ross, Welington Castillo.

Infielders (five/six): Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Mike Olt, Tommy La Stella, Arismendy Alcantara.

Outfielders (four/five): Chris Coghlan, Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler.

Also (for two spots): IF Jonathan Herrera, OF Ryan Sweeney, OF Matt Szczur (and C Taylor Teagarden).

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