Rusch will compete for fifth starting spot
Rusch will go to spring training as a potential fifth starter. There is a player option for 2006 and the value of the contract could increase to $6.4 million over the two years based on incentives for games started.
Rusch can opt out of the contract after the first year -- presumably if the Cubs don't plan to use him as a starter after next season, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports. Rusch goes into spring training as the favorite to replace Matt Clement, who is a free agent, in the rotation.
"This is where he wants to be. These are the people he wants to be surrounded by," agent Tommy Tanzer said Saturday.
Rusch was a pivotal starter and reliever for the Cubs last season. He went 6-2 with a career-low 3.47 ERA in 32 appearances, 16 from the bullpen and 16 as a fill-in starter, especially when Kerry Wood was injured early in the season.
After signing with the Cubs as a free agent, Rusch was called up from Triple-A Iowa on April 30. He went 4-2 as a starter with a 3.50 ERA. He limited left-handed hitters to a .225 average. Rusch also showed some power from the plate, leading all Cubs pitchers with two home runs.
Rusch has pitched in the majors for Kansas City (1997-99), the Mets (1999-01) and Milwaukee (2002-03). He has a 48-78 career record with a 4.93 ERA in 225 games, including 183 starts.He was drafted in the 17th round by Kansas City in 1993.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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