MESA, Ariz. -- Joe Mather got a huge hug from his father prior to Friday's game. Dad had heard that his son was going to be on the Cubs' Opening Day roster."If someone would've told me I would have this well of a camp, I'd be jumping up and down," Mather said. "It's been awesome. They gave me quite a bit of an opportunity, and it feels good to take advantage of that." He was batting .418 in 21 games and was tied for third on the team in at-bats entering Friday's matchup with the Dodgers. It's been a nice comeback for the versatile Mather, who had surgery on his left wrist in September 2008 and has needed time to heal. It's an injury similar to what former Cubs infielder Mark DeRosa had. "It's something they tell you takes six weeks to heal, and when you come back you find out that's not necessarily the case," Mather said. "You lose a lot of the whip in your swing, and everything you taught yourself to do, you have to adjust. It was frustrating, yeah." There were a few teams interested in the right-handed hitter, who has played for the Braves and Cardinals, but he wanted to sign with the Cubs. "I always liked playing in Wrigley, always liked the Cubs' history," he said. "This was definitely a place I wanted to be. It was a nice fit." Cubs manager Dale Sveum likes having Mather as an option at either first, third or the outfield against some tough left-handed pitchers. Sveum also hinted that Mather could push some of the regulars. "That's great to hear coming from the manager that there might be some opportunity there," Mather said. "At this point, being cut down to the final 25 guys, it's about winning. That's what is most important. If I play myself into a role, that would be great, too." The difference this spring? "I think I had a really good offseason, a lot of focus went into my workouts and I think that's probably the main thing and being healthy, secondary," he said. "I had a great core of people around me, my parents, my girlfriend. Everyone's been out here. I think it's a combination of all those things."
DeWitt's determination leads to roster spot
MESA, Ariz. -- When Blake DeWitt was designated for assignment on Feb. 8, the Cubs made it clear they still wanted him on the team but needed his spot on the 40-man roster. DeWitt, who did make the Opening Day roster on Friday, didn't take anything for granted."I've said from the beginning the goal was to come back here and have a good spring," DeWitt said. "The only way to do that is relax, have fun. You've got to earn your way in this game. Nothing will be given to you and the only way you'll achieve it is hard work. It's worked out." The versatile DeWitt has played second, third and outfield this spring. He knows his ability to move runners over and play good, fundamental baseball helped him secure a spot. "You play 162 games, and a good portion of those 162 are decided by little things like [advancing runners]," DeWitt said. "Those one-run games, you come up short and come out on the losing end, sometimes all it takes to get a win is getting a guy over or getting a guy in, getting a bunt down. Over the course of a season, those games add up." For Tony Campana, Friday's news wasn't as good. He didn't make the final 25 and will open the season at Triple-A Iowa. The outfielder was bumped by Joe Mather, who can play first, third and the outfield. "You're disappointed, but the way Joe played this spring, you can't ignore that," Campana said. "He had an unbelievable spring." Campana was bothered by a sore right wrist he injured making a diving catch. "[The wrist] connects to the bat," Campana said, who batted .222 in 17 Cactus League games. "You've got to have those tools." He wasn't discouraged. "They said I'd be up [to the big leagues]," Campana said of his meeting with Cubs manager Dale Sveum and general manager Jed Hoyer. "They said I'm a weapon that a manager likes to have. I'll get back up there."
Sveum unveils Cubs' Opening Day lineup
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum revealed his Opening Day lineup on Friday against the Dodgers, with David DeJesus leading off and Alfonso Soriano batting fifth.The Cubs open the season on Thursday at Wrigley Field against the Nationals, and the lineup will likely be DeJesus batting first, followed by Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Bryan LaHair, Soriano, Ian Stewart, Marlon Byrd, Geovany Soto and Ryan Dempster. Sveum said he will probably tweak the lineup against left-handers, having Barney slide into the leadoff spot. "We have a pretty nice right-handed-hitting lineup, as we saw [Thursday]," Sveum said, referring to the Cubs' 12-11 loss to the Padres. "You've got to get those guys in against lefties as much as you can." Those guys include Jeff Baker, who was batting .333 against lefties this spring. Barney had four hits on Thursday. Soriano has had his best spring, batting .333 with six homers and 16 RBIs.
Cubs' bullpen remains unsettled
MESA, Ariz. -- While all the Cubs' position players know whether they've made the 25-man roster, the bullpen is still in flux. While others were bringing personal items to be packed on the truck to Chicago, relievers like Rafael Dolis must wait. He doesn't know if he's going to make the Opening Day roster or go to the Minor Leagues."They just said, 'Pitch, do your job,'" Dolis said. Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday that the final decisions may not be announced until the 11th hour. "It'll probably go down to possibly the workout on Wednesday [at Wrigley Field] to make those decisions," Sveum said. One player they're not worried about is Kerry Wood, who faced one batter on Thursday, threw five pitches in his first outing since March 18, and that was enough. "He'll get another inning in before we start up," Sveum said. "It'll be a full inning the next time. We might bring him into a situation again, if it arises, where the starting pitcher is getting close to his pitch count and get [Wood] up there and bring him in when there's two outs. He did well, and that was nice to see."
The Cubs will head north with seven relievers, and there are still 11 on the spring roster. Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood and James Russell are set. Casey Coleman has been told he's going to Triple-A Iowa and Frankie De La Cruz also was in the Minor League camp and not expected to make the Opening Day roster.
The list of relievers remaining includes Manuel Corpas, Alberto Cabrera, Shawn Camp, Lendy Castillo, Rodrigo Lopez, and Dolis.
Everyone else is packing their gear for Chicago. How long will it take Dolis to pack?"I can take five minutes, three minutes," Dolis said, laughing. "I can take one minute -- or just leave all my clothes."
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.