Some Cubs players on roster bubble
Uncertainty fills air for a few as team prepares to go home
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The moving truck was outside of the Cubs' clubhouse on Wednesday, ready to be loaded for the trip to Chicago, and the roster is 99 percent set, but there were still some players unsure whether to put their belongings on it.
On Wednesday, Alex Cintron was released, and Cubs manager Lou Piniella said infielders Ronny Cedeno and Mike Fontenot had made the team. With the addition of Reed Johnson, outfielder Matt Murton now appears to be the odd man out.
Murton, a .296 hitter in the Majors, has batted .344 in 22 games this spring, but can only play the corners. Johnson can play all three outfield positions. Where does Murton fit?
"I don't know," Piniella said. "Matt's had a good spring. We like him. We needed a little versatility in the outfield and that was the idea behind the Reed Johnson move.
"If Matt's not here with us, I hope we can find a Major League job for him, because he's a good player, and he deserves that," Piniella said. "I'm sure that, if he's not going to be here, that Jim will try to accomodate him as much as possible."
Cintron knew before the Cubs' game Tuesday against the Giants that he was not going to make the final 25-man roster.
"When he got back [Tuesday], he just left," Piniella said. "The reason being is he was told he wasn't going to make the team. He knew even before the game that he wasn't going to make the team."
Cintron batted .325 in 18 spring games, and played second, shortstop and third.
"We signed him thinking, possibly, there would be a trade of some kind and we might need a utilty infielder," Piniella said. "The fact that Cedeno has played well and so has Fontenot, we couldn't carry three. [Cintron] had a nice spring. It just didn't work out, numbers-wise."
As for the pitching, the Cubs still have some decisions to make. Left-handers Sean Marshall and Carmen Pignatiello are battling for the one opening in the bullpen. Both pitched in relief on Tuesday, and Pignatiello was finally charged with a run, the first he's given up in nine innings this spring. However, it scored on a ball that Johnson lost in the sun, and he could've been charged with an error.
Marshall will pitch out of the 'pen on Thursday and in one of the games in Las Vegas against the Seattle Mariners.
"If [Marshall] can do that, and we're comfortable he can do it, and he feels good about it, he'll come with us and be our left-hander out of the bullpen," Piniella said. "If not, we'll send him down for some work and bring Pignatiello with us."
Tim Lahey, acquired in the Rule 5 Draft, was expected to be placed on waivers. With the decision to put Jon Lieber in the bullpen, the Cubs ran out of spots for Lahey.
"You know, coming in, you may be in this situation," said Lahey, who has appeared in 10 games this spring. "I know the rules. I can look around and do the math. They have a great staff put together and I know where I'm at. It really is a kind of wait and see thing."
He didn't put anything on the van headed to Chicago.
"I don't feel I'm in a position where I can have stuff shipped to Chicago," he said.
However, there is a good chance that Lahey could still find himself on a big league team. If a team claims him off waivers, it would have to keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire season. If Lahey cleared waivers, the Cubs may try to make a deal with the Minnesota Twins for him. It's all up in the air.
"I know there's a lot of movement, usually at the end of camp, with a lot of teams, but I also know most teams are getting their rosters pretty well set up," Lahey said. "I hope there's a spot for me in the big leagues, somewhere, this year. I'm the most anxious person to find out and I wish I had more answers than I do. I'll just have to wait and see."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.