Volstad's bid for Cubs rotation looks strong

Volstad's bid for Cubs rotation looks strong

Volstad's bid for Cubs rotation looks strong
MESA, Ariz. -- Dale Sveum planned on revealing the Cubs starters this week, but word leaked on Saturday that Chris Volstad appears to have locked up a spot.

When Sveum met with the media early Saturday, he said there were two openings in the rotation, and that Volstad, Jeff Samardzija, Randy Wells, Rodrigo Lopez and Travis Wood were in contention. But during a radio interview prior to the game, the Cubs manager said there was only one vacancy. Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm are set, and apparently so is Volstad, who threw 65 pitches over six innings in a Minor League game at Fitch Park on Saturday.

When asked later by Chicago media to clarify his comments, Sveum said "nothing's etched in stone," and repeated he'll announce the final five on Wednesday.

"Thinking about [the radio interview] now, I said, obviously, if [Volstad] keeps throwing the ball the way he's throwing the ball, it'll be hard to keep him out of the rotation," Sveum said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out."

However, Sveum did say in the interview with former general manager Jim Bowden on Sirius that there was only one opening and Volstad was set.

"I don't see how anything could change there," Sveum said in the interview, complimenting Volstad and Maholm on their command.

Volstad hadn't heard either the interview or from Sveum. Has the right-hander done enough this spring?

"I feel I have," said Volstad, has given up one run on seven hits over 10 innings in his three Cactus League outings. "I've tried to be efficient, getting ground balls, and I feel I've put in the hard work. It's not like I can control the decision, but I feel pretty good where I'm at right now."

Saturday was a big day for Wood. The left-hander had not gone beyond 2 1/3 innings, and in his last outing against the Mariners, he served up seven runs on seven hits and two walks over two innings. On Saturday, he was charged with three runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings.

"We have to get him through some clean innings to get some confidence back," Sveum said before the game.

Wood, acquired from the Reds in the Sean Marshall deal, said he was finally able to slow down the pace.

"I wanted to come in and really show them, and obviously, I didn't do that," Wood said of his early outings. "That might have had a little bit to do with it."

It was simply a matter of relaxing.

"I'm a guy who wants to keep going, keep going, keep going and it ends up getting faster and faster and faster instead of the same pace," Wood said. "I just have to try to relax, and take it one pitch at a time."

He's not anxiously waiting for the final word.

"No," Wood said. "They'll make their decisions and whatever will be, will be."

Wells pitched in relief on Saturday against the Padres, giving up one hit over 1 2/3 innings. Sveum said the right-hander will start in his next turn. Sveum is familiar with Wells, who has faced the Brewers in 11 games over his career.

"Seeing him in person the last few years, he made pitches when he had to against a pretty good lineup," Sveum said.

Wells wasn't sure where he'll be penciled in.

"There's obviously competition going on," Wells said. "If you start getting caught up in that, it makes it tougher to pitch. I just go out there and try to do my best."

Wells has not given up a run over 7 1/3 innings in three Cactus League games. He feels he's done enough to start.

"I'd be disappointed," Wells said of his reaction if he isn't named a starter. "Three years in the rotation, to have to go to the bullpen -- but it could be a new challenge and something exciting."