Eyre may receive final bullpen spot

Eyre may receive final bullpen spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Scott Eyre will likely be the only left-hander in the Cubs bullpen while Carmen Pignatiello is the odd man out.

Pignatiello has not given up a run in 5 1/3 innings this spring, and served up only two hits.

"He's pitched well, he really has," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said of Pignatiello. "He's got a little more sink on the ball than he had last year. He's getting his curveball over. He's throwing more strikes with his fastball. It's been impressive.

"His chances of making the team? Unless there's a trade here, there's not going to be room," Piniella said. "Let's not kid ourselves. It's been good experience, but I just don't see where there's room for some of these guys who have pitched well in camp. It's a shame, but the truth."

The Cubs bullpen will likely include Kerry Wood, Bob Howry, Carlos Marmol, Michael Wuertz, Kevin Hart and one of the right-handed pitchers who doesn't get a spot in the rotation. That group includes Jason Marquis, Ryan Dempster and Jon Lieber. Add Eyre and that's it.

Lieber has said he's willing to pitch out of the 'pen.

"I appreciate those thoughts and those comments," Piniella said. "He's a professional. We'll do what we feel is best for our team and go from there."

The Cubs were going to try to get Wood one inning on Thursday. The right-hander did not throw Wednesday because of back spasms. Piniella said the plan is for Wood to throw back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday, and then the team will announce who the closer is. Monday also will likely be the day they announce who gets the rotation spots.

"By Monday, unless there's an injury or a 'Cubby occurrence,' I think we'll be in good shape to announce some plans," Piniella said.

A Cubby occurrence? Piniella has only been with the team for one year and part of spring, and already he's realized this team is a little different than others.

"I say that jokingly," he said.

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Eyre felt better after his outing on Wednesday night when he struck out two and gave up one hit -- a double to Ray Durham -- in one inning against the Giants.

"I had good, fluid motion last night and I felt I was in control of my body last night as opposed to being wild and my one arm going this way," Eyre said.

It wasn't anything mechanical that he did.

"It just takes time for a pitcher to get in a rhythm," he said. "I made one bad pitch to Durham and he slapped it into right field. I've known Ray a long time. He had his head down at second base and I said, 'You [stink].'"

Fans should know Eyre also invited Durham to dinner on Sunday night.

The Cubs lefty was a little preoccupied trying to find out who might have done something to his socks.

"I felt good last night, but my feet itched," he said. "I put my shoes on and I had uncontrollable itching on my feet. I don't know if one of my teammates did something."

Most likely, someone did.

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