Local boy Schlitter makes it as Cubs finalize roster
PHOENIX _ Never let it be said that there isn’t competition for jobs in spring training. Sometimes it seems that way, but this year, the Cubs generated a few surprises, all based on competition. They announced the final spot on their roster today, and it went to Park Ridge resident Brian Schlitter.
Schlitter pitched for the Cubs in 2010, but elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career, so much so that waiver claims on him by the Yankees and Phillies were voided. To me, Schlitter and John Baker making the team as the backup catcher are the two biggest surprise in camp.
Schlitter made it ahead of reliever Alberto Cabrera, who seemingly had the team made but lost the job to Schlitter with a shaky finish to spring training. Baker won the backup catching job over George Kottaras, who seemed the preordained favorite to make it.
Schlitter, 28, will have to be added to the 25-man roster. The Cubs officially will designate Cabrera for assignment to make it possible.
“Really excited for him,” said manager Rick Renteria. “He pitched well. I think everybody’s very comfortable with how he’s gone about his business – quite professionally, and he’s given us innings.”
The Cubs on Friday named Carlos Villanueva their fifth starting pitcher. So here is how the roster shakes out:
Catchers: Welington Castillo and Baker
Infield: Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Mike Olt, Starlin Castro, Emilio Bonifacio and Luis Valbuena
Outfield: Junior Lake, Ryan Sweeney, Justin Ruggiano, Nate Schierholtz and Ryan Kalish (who might be considered another surprise)
Starting pitchers: Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel and Villanueva
Bullpen: Jose Veras (closer), James Russell, Wesley Wright, Schlitter, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm
Rondon is another nice story. He was a Rule 5 pick last year, and often, those guys end up in the minor leagues the next season. But Rondon was respectable last year, and he did nothing this spring to lose his roster spot.
So the Cubs will finish up here at Chase Field against the Diamondbacks with Hammel on the mound and Starlin Castro at shortstop. It will be Castro’s third Cactus League appearance as he has battled a hamstring injury since the beginning of exhibition games. The Cubs also have a whole bunch of minor-leaguers here today, including Brett Jackson, Dan Vogelbach, Javier Baez, Matt Szczur, Rubi Silva, Tony Zych and Arismendy Alcantara.
After today, it’s on to Pittsburgh. Let’s get this going for real.