Cub problems? Too much pitching for a 12-man staff?

SHARE Cub problems? Too much pitching for a 12-man staff?

Jemile Weeks suffers a left knee injury on this collision with White Sox runner Yolmer Sanchez in Monday’s spring game. (Photo: John Antonoff)

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs might have had the fewest job openings, barring injuries, of any big-league camp heading into spring training.

And with manager Joe Maddon laying out his “hybrid” rotation plan that assures both Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery big-league roles, the job market in camp got even tighter in recent days.

Which leads to the Caleb Smith question. The Cubs acquired the hard-throwing lefty via the Rule 5 draft (he was taken from the New York Yankees system by the Milwaukee Brewers and traded to the Cubs) and figure to need a 13-man staff, at least, to be able to open the season with him They must keep him on the big-league roster all season or offer him back to the Yankees.

“We’re going to try to get him as much work as possible,” Maddon said. “Basically, it’s hard to really evaluate anything on spring training performances. However, in his situation, we’re going to be forced to look under the hood a little bit more.”

Smith, who pitched at Class AA Trenton last year, didn’t look great in his spring debut Tuesday, giving up a home run to C.J. Cron and a bolt off the bat of Jefry Marte that put his center fielder into the wall making a crashing catch.

Despite days off in their early April schedule, Maddon said the Cubs still are open to carrying the 13th pitcher to open the season, especially if it involves the Rule  5 kid. But with five starters, and with Montgomery or Anderson in the bullpen, even that might not create enough room. Right-handers Wade Davis, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Carl Edwards Jr., Justin Grimm and Koji Uehara are assured spots if healthy. And veteran lefty Brian Duensing, who had a scoreless inning Tuesday, also has a guaranteed contract.

“The pitching’s really gotten significantly better, I think,” Maddon said. “With good health, it’s going to be very difficult, in a good way.”

Weeks day-to-day

Infielder Jemile Weeks, one of four candidates for the last two bench jobs, was hobbled Tuesday after colliding with the runner while making a tag on a stolen base attempt in the sixth inning Monday.

“A little bit of a hyperextension,” Maddon said of the left leg. “Just everything’s sore back there [behind the knee]. When he came walking off, at first we were going to let him go back out, but I thought, ‘This is crazy. Don’t do that.’ And fortunately we did not, because he is sore.”

Weeks was not scheduled to play Tuesday regardless. He’ll be evaluated Wednesday morning.

Ring bearings

Maddon doesn’t know what he plans to do with his World Series ring. He gave his 2002 ring from coaching with the Los Angeles Angels to his mother and his 2008 ring for getting to the World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays to his wife, Jaye.

“I’ll talk to Jaye about it, and if she wants to hold onto it, or just give it to my mom to hold onto it for a while,” Maddon said.

When will he keep one for himself?

“It’s about doing what you’ve done for a long period of time and then you get out there and it works,” he said, “and you know that you’re part of the championship group. I’m really satisfied with the thought, quite frankly.”

La Stella update

Infielder Tommy La Stella, who’s in a four-man pool of candidates with Weeks, continues to make progress with a tight hamstring that has slowed him the last week.

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