Injuries to Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray have opened up competition for a few extra bullpen slots for the 2010 Cubs.
Guzman who has had a history of arm injuries will have an MRI on his sore right shoulder this weekend. Guzman will likely not be ready for opening day and his 2010 status is now up in the air again. After a solid 2009 in which he appeared in a career-high 55 games (with a 2.95 ERA), this is a big blow for the Cubs who had thought he put his injury woes behind him.
Jeff Gray has been dealing with a sore groin all spring. Gray was projected to be the right-handed set-up man for Closer Carlos Marmol, so the longer he sits, the more dire the situation for the Cubs.
Right now, the 3 locks for bullpen spots are Marmol, John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad. Sean Marshall and Jeff Samardzija could also land spots in the rotation if they do not win one of the 2 open starting rotation spots.
Other bullpen candidates include Jeff Stevens, John Gaub, Thomas Diamond, Blake Parker and Andrew Cashner. Manager Lou Pinella likes what he’s seen out of Cashner so far: “Cashner’s a nice looking young kid. That’s going to be up to the organization. First of all, let’s see how he pitches here. Let’s see what the organization has planned as far as starter, reliever. I think Jim will make that decision and rightfully so.”
This is not good news for the Cubs. GM Jim Hendry might have to work a little magic to pick up a more established reliever once spring training camps break in early April. If not, we could be looking at a lot of young kids pitching a lot of meaningful innings for the Cubs at Wrigley Field in 2010.