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Baker doubtful, Feldman will work as starter


MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Scott Baker, coming back from Tommy John surgery last year, most likely will not be ready by Opening Day, and that Scott Feldman will be a starter and won't need to multitask as he did with the Rangers.

With Feldman securing a spot and Baker not being ready by April 1, that leaves one vacancy in the rotation. Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson are set, and Matt Garza also appears healthy after missing more than two months last year because of an elbow problem.

"There's an above average chance Baker is going to probably start a little bit late, just because you don't want to rush him," Sveum said Thursday. "There's no need for that. You have Garza, Samardzija, Jackson, Feldman and the other spot, and you never know -- there's no guarantees of any spots besides the top three. We'll let it all pan out and see what happens."

But asked about whether Feldman, who has pitched in relief and started for the Rangers, would be considered for the 'pen, Sveum said, "Feldman's a starter. He's going to be one of the starters."

Feldman was happy to hear that.

"That was one of the main reasons I wanted to come here, was to get the opportunity," Feldman said when told the news. "I'm not going to take anything for granted, and I'll keep working hard and try to improve all spring and carry that into the season."

The right-hander was 5-11 with a 5.48 ERA in 21 starts with the Rangers, and 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in eight games in relief.

"When you're on a team like that which has a lot of pitching, and you get hurt at the wrong time, that's what happened to me," Feldman said of last season. "I don't hold anything against them, it was just kind of the circumstances. ... I'm just glad to turn the page on that and am looking forward to the season here and being healthy."

He signed in November, and the Cubs continued to add pitchers after that, such as Jackson and Carlos Villanueva. That didn't faze Feldman.

"I want to be on a good team and every team that's successful has a lot of good pitching depth," he said. "Seeing some of the guys we were able to sign and seeing Garza come back and healthy now, I think it's going to be hopefully a good year and everybody can stay healthy."

Villanueva will likely be used in relief, Sveum said. That would give lefty Travis Wood an edge for the last rotation spot.

"There's competition, and we have a lot of time to see them and see what's going on," Sveum said.

Sveum expects that the team will finalize its rotation sometime between March 20 and 25.

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