GOODYEAR, Ariz. – On Wednesday, Cubs manager Dale Sveum plans to tell us what we already think we know about the starting rotation. The position-player decisions are done, except for the backup catcher spot. And David DeJesus is probably the leadoff hitter. Probably.
‘‘Nothing’s etched in stone,” Sveum said again Sunday.
Nothing except this: The equipment semi-truck leaves Mesa, Ariz., for Chicago on Saturday.
That means just a few days are left to get at least a few decisions ironed out in Sveum’s first spring training as a big-league manager.
Here are the questions (and an answer or two):
What about that starting rotation?
Despite Chris Volstad (0.90 ERA) being the top performer in camp and having no starts left before Sveum’s promised announcement, Sveum still refused to say Sunday that the most obvious choice for one of the two openings is locked in.
‘‘It’s not what maybe he’ll do – it’s maybe what somebody else will do,” Sveum said. ‘‘You never know.”
Yeah, we do. Unless Volstad’s arm falls off before Wednesday, he’s in.
What about the other spot (to join Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm)?
Jeff Samardzija pumped a little intrigue into the issue by getting knocked around by the Texas Rangers in his last start, but he’s still the likely choice, especially when top competitor Randy Wells was used in a 12/3-inning relief appearance Saturday, working solely out of the stretch as if preparing for the long-relief job.
What’s left to decide in the bullpen?
Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and James Russell were locked in as camp opened and remain there. Rafael Dolis has earned one of the four other spots, with Wells looking like the long man.
The last two spots remain wide open, especially with Marcos Mateo’s elbow injury last week. Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, veteran lefty Trever Miller, Frankie de la Cruz and Manny Corpas are all still in camp, and it’s probably 50-50 that one of the spots could be filled by somebody acquired before the opener.
The last utility bench job?
Joe Mather, who has played five positions in camp, had another big day Sunday, and unless he gets hit by the team bus, he’s in.
Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger both have played well behind the plate and matched each other hit for hit, double for double this spring. Sveum says it might come down to a coin flip. More likely, it’ll come down to slight experience edge and cannon (Castillo) or lefty hitter (Clevenger).
And what about DeJesus as the leadoff man, with his .195 spring average and .298 on-base percentage? If not him, who else is qualified? And what about second? And so on?
‘‘I’ve probably lost more sleep over our batting order than anything as far as camp’s gone,” Sveum said. ‘‘I was sitting talking [about it] to the staff [Sunday]. .â€‰.â€‰.
‘‘Like I said a month ago, [it might come down to] who’s swinging good, who steps up power-wise. It’s just a bit of a funny lineup where we don’t have that guy, this guy, that second hitter, that leadoff guy, that third hitter, that fifth. .â€‰.â€‰. It’s probably going to be four days from now before we really sit down and say, ‘All right, this is what it’s going to be on Opening Day.’
‘‘I don’t think anything’s etched in stone except probably [Alfonso] Soriano’s going to be three, four or five.”