Bourjos' fate may depend on bullpen's size

Maddon uncertain whether Cubs will carry 7 or 8 relievers

March 20th, 2018

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- As the Cubs head into the final week of games in Arizona, they're still debating roster decisions, such as whether to carry seven or eight relievers. What they do could affect the status of someone like outfielder , who has been impressive in camp.
Bourjos, 30, a non-roster invitee who has played for the Angels, Cardinals, Phillies and Rays, was batting .342 (13-for-38) in 14 games with the Cubs heading into Monday night's matchup with the Reds.
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"Love him -- absolutely love him," manager Joe Maddon said. "I've had a lot of good conversations with him, and I've admired his work from a distance for a while. I told him all of that stuff. I spent a lot of time talking with him in this camp about things I've noticed. The conversation is easy, he's a pro. I see him coming out of his shell -- meaning he's getting more comfortable here. The dialogue is real easy, and I enjoy the way he's playing."
But the Cubs have other considerations. They could go with three catchers. What if they favor versatile , who has played infield and the outfield? Shortstop has had a good camp, too.
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"Everybody is making it difficult," Maddon said. "It's a combination of skill, guys who have done it before and how they fit in. It's really important to fit in here now, and they all fit."
The Cubs appear to be set with seven relievers, including closer , , , Mike Montgomery, , , and The candidates for the potential eighth spot include , , and Eddie Butler.
"Eddie provides length, which could be important to us, but so do some of the other guys," Maddon said. "I don't have any answers yet."
After an off-day Tuesday, the Cubs have six more games in Arizona, then two exhibition games against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., next week.
"We want to look at everything," Maddon said.
Injury update
Strop, who has been sidelined with a sore left calf, threw one inning in a Minor League game on Monday. He was expected to appear in three more exhibition games.
"I have plenty of time," Strop said.
"Everything's based on how he feels, how the ball is coming out, where he thinks he's at," Maddon said. "Of course, you could get four [appearances] in, but we could make up our minds before that, yes or no. He's been throwing the whole time. Even though he had an injury, his arm was not shut down. We'll wait and see the next time and then the next time, and each time we'll evaluate and hopefully make our best call."

Morrow is right on track
Morrow also pitched in the Minor League game on Monday, his fifth spring appearance. He'll get at least three more outings, including back-to-back games at the end of camp.
"That will be plenty," Morrow said. "I feel like I'm ready to go now."
Last year, Morrow appeared in 13 spring games with the Dodgers, but that was a different scenario. The right-hander had signed a Minor League contract.
"I was trying to make a team, so I was a guy who they were running out there," Morrow said.
Maddon has seen enough.
"I think he is [ready], just talking to him after the previous [outings]," Maddon said. "He looks fine to me, he looks great. Physically, it's there, the pitches are there, the velocity is there, the break is there. He just has to get out and compete in a big league game."
One thing Morrow hasn't done is pick his entrance music.
"I've got some suggestions from different people that I'm sorting through," he said. "Nothing stands out yet."

Gimenez enjoying Nevada's NCAA run
When Chris Gimenez returned to Phoenix from the Cubs' split-squad games in Las Vegas, he caught the end of the NCAA men's basketball game between his alma mater, Nevada, and outfielder 's Cincinnati team, which was a No. 2 seed. Nevada, a No. 7 seed, posted an upset win, 75-73, to advance.
"I may have gotten [Happ] a Sweet 16 shirt," Gimenez said with a smirk. "From what I saw on Twitter, [Cincinnati] had put them out -- 'Hey, buy these shirts now because we're going.' I think it's fair to get him one, right?"
Next up for the Wolf Pack in the tourney is Loyola Chicago, an 11 seed that also advanced via an upset.
"I'm extremely excited and happy for the program," Gimenez said of the Nevada team. "The kids, they busted their butts, and they deserved it. They have a very tough opponent with Loyola Chicago, and I have to be careful with the words I say. I wish both teams well.
"I guess you're in a win-win situation if you're a guy like me, although my alma mater, I'd be happy for them. Either way, someone is going to the Elite Eight who hasn't been there in a while."
Zo working at first base
will get some playing time at first base this spring. He's been working with infield coach Brian Butterfield. The versatile Zobrist has played all over, but only 23 games at first.
"Zo wants to feel good about it," Maddon said. "It's about the road map. Where do I go? Where do I go on cutoffs and relays? Where do I go on bunt defense? That's the uncomfortable part."
Up next
Tuesday is an off-day for the Cubs, although right-hander will stay on schedule and pitch in a Minor League game at the team complex in Mesa. On Wednesday, the Cubs travel to Surprise to face the Rangers, and is slated to start against his former team. In three starts this spring, Darvish has struck out 13 over 10 1/3 innings.