Parker aims for spot in crowded 'pen after rough '12

Parker aims for spot in crowded 'pen after rough '12

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs reliever Blake Parker has thrown 5 1/3 scoreless innings over five outings, and given up two hits to the 17 batters he's faced while walking one and striking out six. It's encouraging for the right-hander, who was limited to seven games with the big league team last season because of elbow soreness.

"This is exactly what I wanted to do is show them I'm ready and show them I can throw strikes and compete again after coming off the injury," Parker said. "I felt ready to come in and fight for a position, and feel I've done that."

There aren't many spots open in the Cubs' bullpen. Carlos Marmol, Kyuji Fujikawa, Shawn Camp and James Russell are set, plus the Cubs like what they've seen of Rule 5 Draft pick Hector Rondon. Other non-roster invitees still in camp and in contention include Drew Carpenter, Jaye Chapman, Casey Coleman, Jensen Lewis, Zach Putnam, Hisanori Takahashi and Cory Wade.

"There aren't many [openings] at all," Parker said. "There are a bunch of guys who have already proven themselves at the big league level."

Parker does have two options left, while others do not.

"You don't really worry about that," he said. "You go out and work your game and throw your pitches and see if that works."

His goal is to make it tough on the Cubs front office.

"You go out there and make the decision harder on them by being prepared every day," Parker said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.