MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs will play the first of two Spring Training games against their crosstown rivals, the White Sox, on Friday, but manager Dale Sveum isn't saving his starting nine for the contest.
"It didn't really cross my mind," Sveum said of the early intracity showdown to be played in Glendale. "It's Spring Training, and it'll be a heck of a lot more different when the season starts.
"Spring Training, it's another game right now," he said. "I know it's not another game for people back in Chicago. Our schedule is based more on 'Golly, lineup, oh yeah, we're playing the Mariners today.' We're not caught up in who we're playing now, we're just trying to get people at-bats."
The Cubs and White Sox also face off March 18 in Mesa, the last tuneup before they will face each other in Interleague Play. They'll meet at Wrigley Field May 18-20, and at U.S. Cellular Field June 18-20.
Sveum and new White Sox manager Robin Ventura were teammates in 1992 on the South Side. They talked at the Winter Meetings in December, and Sveum said he hoped to get a chance to chat with Ventura on Friday to see how things are going in his first camp.
"I'm sure he'll have the same questions for me," Sveum said.
Cubs don't want Wood as sole setup pitcher
MESA, Ariz. -- Kerry Wood is the Cubs' main setup pitcher, but manager Dale Sveum is looking for someone to back the right-hander up.
Last season, Wood totaled 51 innings in that role. His season ended early because of problems with his left knee, which required offseason arthroscopic surgery. He's 34, and Sveum wants to keep Wood fresh.
"When you're an eighth-inning guy and go through a lot of wins in a month, a guy like that, you've got to have a seventh-inning guy who's capable of getting those three outs up to the last three outs," Sveum said Thursday. "You don't know who can handle those roles. Obviously, Kerry can, and [Jeff] Samardzija showed he could do it last year. You just make sure if you get them up, you get them in a game."
Samardzija may switch from the bullpen to the rotation if he wins one of two openings available. One thing Sveum wants to make sure he does is not waste Wood's time.
"If you get him up, you get him in the game," Sveum said. "That's more important than the matchups."
But there isn't anyone else prepared to step into the setup role.
"I don't know if we have that guy," Sveum said. "They've never done it before. People don't understand those roles and how important those outs are and how people react to those outs in the game. The bottom line is the tying run is going to get to the plate. I don't care if Mariano Rivera is out there or what, it's just the way those last few outs are. Not everybody can handle those situations. You have to find the right makeup as much as the right kind of stuff. The makeup is probably more important."
Sveum was impressed with how the Cardinals' bullpen functioned last season. They were both durable and good.
"It's a very difficult thing to do to put together bullpens like that, but it's an unbelievable asset to have," Sveum said.
In a perfect world, the Cubs' other option would be a left-handed setup pitcher, but Sveum wants a southpaw who can get right-handers out. How do they prep the pitchers for the job?
"Spring Training doesn't count for those roles," Sveum said. "You can't simulate Wrigley Field in the eighth inning. A lot of times, [check a] guy's stuff. OK. Does he have the makeup? OK. Somebody got hurt, so he's got to be put in that position. Oh, wow, he did pretty good. Obviously, he has to do it again and again.
"Usually, guys don't fall into that," he said. "They leave Spring Training and some young guy, oh, he's going to be a setup guy. It evolves after a little bit."
Carlos Marmol is working on command of his fastball this spring, which the Cubs closer needs so he can show hitters something other than his trademark slider.
"People are a little more on to the slider now that's he gotten older and people can sit on it," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Marmol. "Witness [Brewers pitcher Francisco Rodriguez] doing it last year when we got him. He started using his fastball a heck of a lot more. People were sitting on his slow stuff and, bam, here's a strike, fastball. A couple years ago, it was 80, 90 percent all breaking balls. There's times you have to adjust to the league because they're adjusting to you as well."
Marmol's fastball was hitting 94 mph on the radar gun in his first spring outing Sunday. Last year, it was topping at 90, 91 mph, Sveum said.
Sveum signed a letter of intent to play football at Arizona State University in 1982 but was drafted in June by the Brewers and chose baseball instead. Why ASU?
"They were going to let me play baseball and football," Sveum said. "It was either them or BYU, and BYU kind of frowned upon doing both. They said the playbook was a little too big for a quarterback to handle both sports."
Cubs single-game tickets go on sale to the general public Friday.
The Cubs were successful on four of five stolen base attempts on Wednesday, and Sveum said one of the reasons he wants players to run is to see what they can do. One player who has impressed him is Joe Mather, who has swiped three bases so far.
Welington Castillo, Paul Maholm and Casey Coleman advanced to the final four in the Cubs' bunting tournament with wins on Thursday. The remaining elite eight matchup pits outfielder David DeJesus against Starlin Castro.
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.