PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cubs reliever John Grabow, who has not pitched since the Cactus League opener on Feb. 27 because of tightness in his left shoulder, is expected to get into a game Thursday.
Grabow had a side session Monday in Mesa, Ariz., and all reports were good.
"He had a smile on his face, and a smile from all who watched it and were around it," Cubs manager Mike Quade said.
If Grabow passes all the tests Tuesday, he was expected to pitch one inning when the Cubs travel to Phoenix to face the Athletics on Thursday.
Quade said there is plenty of time for Grabow to get prepared for the regular season. Depending on whether James Russell is in the rotation or not, the Cubs will likely have at least three, and possibly four, lefties in the bullpen with Grabow, Sean Marshall and Scott Maine in the mix.
Cashner, Wells have next chance to impress
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner will each get another chance Tuesday to convince Cubs manager Mike Quade that they are best suited for the rotation.
Wells and Cashner will start in the Cubs' final split-squad games, with Wells facing the Rockies at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz., and Cashner going to Phoenix to start against the Athletics. The two right-handers are vying for the rotation vacancies with Carlos Silva, Casey Coleman, Braden Looper, Todd Wellemeyer and James Russell.
"I'm not closer to nailing stuff down, but of that mix, whether it's bullpen, whether it's fourth and fifth, I think a lot of guys have been better lately, and that's what we're looking for," Quade said Monday. "Until I have to make a decision, we'll let this thing play out."
Cashner will be an interesting call. Has he developed his secondary pitches enough to be considered a starter? Do the Cubs feel he needs more experience and would benefit from pitching at Triple-A Iowa? Or, if he's not ready to start, do they keep his talented arm in the bullpen with the big league team?
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Earlier this spring, Quade said he challenged Cashner. The right-hander, who was the Cubs' No. 1 pick in 2008, isn't the only one.
"I think last year when Lou [Piniella] left, all those kids were challenged to get better," Quade said. "[Cashner] needs to get better no matter what his role is. There are more things to work on when you're starting -- your third pitch becomes more important, all the little things. No matter what role you're in, hitting the glove is a good idea."
A baseball cliche is that pitchers are "professional glove hitters." What Cashner needs to show is that he can be consistent with his pitches over a longer stretch, not just against three batters in a relief role.
"There's a lot of money in that catcher's glove," Quade said. "It doesn't look green, but there's a lot of money -- there's championships. Hit the glove. That's the challenge every day, but instead of it being a challenge for 24 pitches or 17 pitches or three hitters, it needs to be there for 26 hitters or six [innings] and change."
Castro fine, trio slowed by injuries
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is fine after bruising his right knee, Brett Jackson and Augie Ojeda were listed as day-to-day with shoulder and back issues, respectively, while Brad Snyder is slowed by a sore oblique.
Jackson bruised his left shoulder making a diving catch on Saturday in Las Vegas, and was lifted from the game as a precautionary measure. Ojeda has been bothered by back spasms, and was able to play Friday, but the problem flared up.
"It's a day-to-day thing," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of Ojeda, who is competing for the extra infielder spot on the roster.
Snyder has been limited to six games this spring because of his oblique, and has been unable to take batting practice.
Castro, who injured his knee sliding into second base on Sunday in Las Vegas, did not play Monday to give him a day to rest and get treatment. Castro is ranked among the Cactus League leaders with a .485 average after going 6-for-6 with two home runs in the last two days.
"He's getting good pitches to hit, he's not missing them, he's using the whole field, and he's hit a couple homers, which is good," Quade said of the shortstop, who turns 21 on March 24. "You'd like to think he's maturing and getting better. He's a talented young kid and he's getting better."
Cubs manager Mike Quade wasn't too worried about Carlos Marmol's rough outing in Las Vegas on Saturday. The closer gave up two runs, two walks and one run. "Maybe he got 'Vegased' -- who knows?" Quade said. ... Quade said he'll likely go with the road team Tuesday to Phoenix. Usually the manager stays at the home park. "I'm playing more kids in Oakland and leaving the veterans home, and they'll be fine," he said. Bench coach Pat Listach was the acting manager for the split-squad teams in Arizona when Quade traveled to Las Vegas over the weekend. Listach wouldn't sit in Quade's chair in the manager's office postgame. "Not yet," Quade quipped. "I told him that a few weeks ago." ... Reliever Marcos Mateo was expected back in Cubs camp on Tuesday. He returned to the Dominican Republic following the death of his mother. ... Fans will be able to dine and mingle with Cubs players and Quade at the inaugural Bricks and Ivy Ball on April 6 at Navy Pier's Grand Ballroom in Chicago. The event includes a seated dinner, live music and silent and live auctions where prizes include the chance to serve as team owner for a day. Individual tickets are available at www.cubs.com/bricksandivyball.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.