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Cub twister: How many starts could Tyler get If Chatwood could chuck good?

Chatwood in his first start of the spring last week. (John Antonoff photo)

MESA, Ariz. — Cubs right-hander Tyler Chatwood has shown early promise in solving the command problems that cost him his starting rotation spot last year. But even if his best-case performance scenario plays out this spring, would there even be a role for him to fill – much less a starting role?

“He’s here to be stretched out as a starter,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Stuff happens. He just needs to take care of his side of things, which apparently he is and then make our discussions that much more difficult.”

Chatwood, who walked more than eight per nine innings last year, pitched three scoreless without a walk on Friday against the Diamondbacks, striking out three.

“Keep doing that and make it really, really hard for us to figure this whole thing out,” Maddon said. “And hopefully nobody would get injured. But there’s always that. And there’s always the fact that you’re going to need more than five legitimate starters.”

In large part because of Chatwood’s issues last year, the Cubs felt compelled to exercise the 2019 option of Cole Hamels (acquired in a July trade from the Rangers) – filling out a five-man rotation that also returns a healthy Yu Darvish.

“All I can do is go out there and pitch,” Chatwood said. “That’s my job. Nothing else is my job. Just go out there and pitch and show them what I can do and what I know I can do.”

Would he want a trade if he’s pitching well enough to start without a spot open in the Cubs’ rotation?

“I can’t control what they do,” said Chatwood, who told the Sun-Times earlier in camp he wants to stay in Chicago. “I feel like I’m a starter. I know we have a lot of great starters here so my job is just to go out there and pitch and make them make a tough decision.”

Tough week off field for Heyward

Right-fielder Jason Heyward was scratched from the lineup for the second time in a week Saturday, this time because of the effects of a bug making its way through the clubhouse.

Earlier in the week, Heyward was excused from a start after getting sudden unexpected news that a family member was “in a bad situation health-wise.”

“It’s been a rough week, a real rough week [for him],” Maddon said.

Heyward continued to practice during the week until he was sent home sick Saturday.

“We all deal with stuff all the time. It’s part of life,” he said. “It’s the nature of playing this sport, that you’re away from family and friends so often. I won’t say it’s hard, but it’s always not an easy thing to do when life’s going on. That always happens.

“This was just being caught off guard by it. Now I’m aware of it and come to terms.”

On the field, Heyward has looked good in camp early in practice and games.