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Montgomery remains in mix for rotation

Left-hander will be sixth starter in spring; Maddon meets with coaches; leadoff hitter to be determined
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- Even though the Cubs added Yu Darvish to the rotation, Mike Montgomery will stay in the mix and be considered the sixth starter. At least, that's where Montgomery will be in Cactus League play.

Darvish officially joined the Cubs on Tuesday, and will be inserted into a rotation that includes Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.

MESA, Ariz. -- Even though the Cubs added Yu Darvish to the rotation, Mike Montgomery will stay in the mix and be considered the sixth starter. At least, that's where Montgomery will be in Cactus League play.

Darvish officially joined the Cubs on Tuesday, and will be inserted into a rotation that includes Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood.

"We're approaching Spring Training as if we have a six-man starting staff and Mike Montgomery is part of those six," Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Tuesday. "If everyone stays healthy and we decide, looking at the schedule, we want to go five, we'll whittle it down to five and Mike will join the bullpen.

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"You need more than five to get through the course of the year," Epstein said. "I'm not saying we're going with a six-man rotation but in Spring Training, he's part of the starting group."

Last season, Montgomery posted a 4.15 ERA in 14 starts and had a 2.49 ERA in 30 relief appearances. The left-hander has made it clear he'd prefer to start and talked to both Epstein and manager Joe Maddon about that.

Video: PIT@CHC: Montgomery tosses seven-plus solid innings

"There's going to be plenty of starts for him," Maddon said. "We really believe that, we know that. It's just a matter of conveying that.

"With him, he's very aware of how we feel about him and how this is all going to work out," Maddon said. "I'm not concerned."

• Maddon spent most of Monday and Tuesday meeting with his coaches, which includes a few new faces such as hitting coach Chili Davis, pitching coach Jim Hickey and third-base coach Brian Butterfield.

"Right now, we have to break in the coaches, not the players," Maddon said.

The coaching staff also reported the first injury of spring. Bench coach Brandon Hyde sprained his left ankle coaching his son's basketball team.

• Darvish will take part in the Cubs pitchers and catchers' first workout on Wednesday. The first full-squad workout will be Feb. 19. Naturally, Maddon was asked who will be the Cubs' leadoff man. As of now, it could change on a daily basis depending on the opposing pitcher and matchups.

"We'll try different things in different games," Maddon said.

• The other element to be determined this spring is Maddon's theme for the season. In 2016, it was "Embrace the Target," and last year, it was "Be Uncomfortable."

What's the motto for 2018?

"The theme was made in advance of Yu but I think it fits in well with him here," Maddon said. "It's a little more elaborate. We'll reveal it week by week. I got more people involved. There's a lot of balls in the air."

So, stay tuned.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs, Mike Montgomery