Cubs set rotation to start 2010

Updated: March 26, 2010, 5:22 PM ET
By Bruce Levine | ESPNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced his rotation Friday to begin the 2010 season, and as expected, Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Silva will fill out the starting spots.

Piniella said he's not sure of the order of the rotation after Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells.

Jeff Samardzija and Sean Marshall will go to the bullpen as long relievers or potential starters in case of injury.

"The thing I'm happiest about is we sent nobody to the minor leagues," Piniella said. "They went from the rotation to the bullpen.

"Remember, when we set this competition up, we didn't know {Angel] Guzman would be out for a whole year and [Jeff] Gray would be hurt."

Piniella said Samardzija was hoping for a starting spot.

"He was a little disappointed," Piniella said. "He thought he had pitched well enough in spring training to stay in the rotation. I agreed with him. But unfortunately, we only have two spots.

"And then remember, [Ted] Lilly is ahead of schedule. In three weeks from now, we're going to have to make a decision again. With that in mind, let's put Marshall and Samardzija in places where they can help our baseball team."

Piniella said he's not concerned about his inexperienced relief corps. Four of the relievers -- right-handers Samardzija, Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg and lefty James Russell -- have a combined 93 2/3 innings of major league experience, and 27-year-old Carlos Marmol enters a season as the closer for the first time. Left-handers Marshall and John Grabow round out the bullpen.

"Am I concerned about anything? Absolutely not," Piniella said. "I said coming into camp that I liked our team ... and nothing that I've seen in spring training makes me feel any different.

"Very young bullpen. The whole bullpen [aside from Marmol] is new from what we left here with last year. But we've got some really, really good arms in there. It's a bullpen that's got a chance to get better and better as the season goes on."

Piniella said if GM Jim Hendry can acquire a veteran reliever, Russell likely would go to the minors.

Piniella said Grabow and Caridad will be Marmol's primary setup men. Guzman had been expected to fill that role but sustained a possible career-ending shoulder injury.

Samardzija, Marshall, Silva and Gorzelanny each pitched well this spring, but Piniella said the fact that Samardzija and Marshall had past success as relievers factored into his choices.

While Lilly finishes rehabbing from offseason shoulder surgery, Silva and Gorzelanny each will have two or three regular-season starts to win the No. 5 starter spot. Silva, acquired in the deal that sent outfielder Milton Bradley to Seattle, has two years and $25 million left on his contract. Gorzelanny arrived in a trade with Pittsburgh last July.

Piniella said he'll make final decision on bench players by Wednesday. Candidates are Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld and Tyler Colvin.

Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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