Notes: Roster nearly set with a week left

Notes: Roster nearly set with a week left

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Cubs will break camp in one week, and manager Lou Piniella wants the final 25 set before the team heads to Las Vegas for two exhibition games against Seattle. There aren't many decisions left to make.

The Cubs have one spot open in the bullpen, and one spot on the bench. Piniella didn't want to say the fifth starter spot was "100 percent decided" in fairness to Mark Prior, who is battling Wade Miller for the job.

As for the 'pen, it will likely come down to either Kerry Wood or Angel Guzman. Is Wood healthy? The Cubs will have a better idea on Friday when Wood makes his first Cactus League appearance since March 11. He's been slowed by a strained right tricep.

Is Guzman better served by starting at Triple-A Iowa or by being in the 'pen and used in long relief?

"I've had that discussion a couple times with [general manager Jim Hendry]," Piniella said Thursday. "I think the posture here is to pick the best staff that we possibly can.

"We've got [Ryan] Dempster, we've got [Bob] Howry, we've got [Michael] Wuertz, we've got [Scott] Eyre, we've got [Will] Ohman, we've got [Neal] Cotts," Piniella said of his relievers. "There's one spot left."

Piniella would like to see all of the relievers pitch on consecutive days, and go at least two innings in a game at least once.

As for the bench, it'll come down to whether the Cubs take an extra infielder or extra outfielder, and the team appears to be leaning more toward an infielder like Ronny Cedeno. Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot can play both infield and outfield if needed.

Bottom line, the Cubs appear to have 22 spots set with seven games remaining in Arizona.

"That's a pretty good position to be in with a week to go in Spring Training," Piniella said. "Unless we have an injury, we're pretty set to go."

Handyman: DeRosa has regained the 10 pounds he lost in three days because he was sick this spring. The Cubs second baseman is feeling better, batting .286 in 13 games so far.

"Body-wise, defensively I feel good," DeRosa said Thursday. "Obviously, at the plate, I'd like to have a little more production."

He just needed to get his energy back. He was knocked out for a few days.

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"A couple days ago, I was finally able to run sprints," DeRosa said. "You take it for granted when you're laying in bed. I've never not come to the field before in my career, and I called Jason Marquis that morning and said tell [the trainers] to give me a call, because there's no way I'm moving from my bed right now."

Now that he's healthy, DeRosa is moving a lot. He started at third base Wednesday, and is the designated backup there. He's used to switching positions, having played six different positions last year with the Rangers.

"I've done it so much, it's really not a big deal to me," he said. "The way I approach it is I'll do whatever I can to help the team win. Bottom line, if injuries present themselves and I have to move for the betterment of the team, I'm willing to do that."

Theriot has been tabbed as a backup infielder on the Opening Day roster. DeRosa's versatility is helping the Cubs make their final roster decisions.

"The way I look at it, if I was the manager and somebody goes down, I'd move me, too," DeRosa said.

Did you know: Daryle Ward hit a walk-off grand slam Wednesday in the Cubs' 11-7 win over the Rangers. Did you know the last time the Cubs won a regular-season game on a walk-off grand slam was Aug. 30, 1993, against the Phillies at Wrigley Field? With two outs and the score tied at 6 in the 11th, catcher Rick Wilkins connected off Roger Mason for the win.

That was the first Cubs walk-off grand slam since 1980 when Barry Foote and Cliff Johnson both accomplished the feat.

Ward is feeling much better since he overcame the flu bug that bit him twice this spring.

"I'm not a guy who needs a lot of at-bats," he said. "I just need to make sure my timing is right. I do enough extra hitting when the season starts. I have a pretty good system."

Ward led Major League pinch-hitters with 17 RBIs and a .645 slugging percentage last season, and hit four pinch homers.

Quotable: "I'd like to hit a home run one time this spring. Everyone else has." -- DeRosa, who is batting .286 (10-for-35) so far in Cactus League play

Extra bases: Rich Hill threw 17 pitches in one inning before rain ended the Cubs' game against the Padres on Thursday. Hill then went to a covered area to finish his work for the day. ... Derrek Lee did get another hit before the rain came, and is batting .511 this spring. ... The Cubs optioned right-handed pitcher Roberto Novoa to Triple-A Iowa. Novoa, slowed because of tightness in his shoulder, had walked five and given up two hits in 2 1/3 innings in four games. The roster now is 35 and includes 17 pitchers, three catchers, eight infielders and seven outfielders. ... Piniella on reports that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Florida: "He's a good friend. I just don't know the details, so I don't want to get involved with it. He's a good friend, and we'll leave it at that." ... The Cubs wives will be collecting non-perishable food items at Friday's game at HoHoKam Park to donate to Paz de Cristo.

On deck: Carlos Zambrano will make his fifth spring start Friday when the Cubs play host to the San Francisco Giants at HoHoKam Park. Zambrano, who will be the Cubs Opening Day starter, is 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA so far, striking out 16 in 14 2/3 innings.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.