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Montgomery accepting of role in Cubs' bullpen

Maddon calls left-hander the club's 'sixth starter' entering Spring Training
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

MESA, Ariz. -- This offseason, Mike Montgomery prepared as if he would start for the Cubs, and he will continue to train as if he's in the rotation, even though the left-hander most likely will be a reliever on Opening Day.

"I liked winning the World Series a couple years ago, and even getting to the playoffs last year, you realize being on a winning team is the most important [thing]," Montgomery said Wednesday, one day after essentially being bumped from the Cubs' rotation because of the arrival of Yu Darvish.

MESA, Ariz. -- This offseason, Mike Montgomery prepared as if he would start for the Cubs, and he will continue to train as if he's in the rotation, even though the left-hander most likely will be a reliever on Opening Day.

"I liked winning the World Series a couple years ago, and even getting to the playoffs last year, you realize being on a winning team is the most important [thing]," Montgomery said Wednesday, one day after essentially being bumped from the Cubs' rotation because of the arrival of Yu Darvish.

"That's why we play the game -- that's why we play sports is to win. My role will find a way, and I think if I'm good, there will be times when I'll be where I want to be. I'm feeling good right now. It's about being here, getting back with the guys, seeing these guys faces every day and grinding it out with them."

• Montgomery remains in mix for rotation

Darvish, who signed a six-year, $126 million contract on Tuesday, joined his new teammates for the first day of workouts on Wednesday. The right-hander joins Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood in the rotation and is expected to throw his first bullpen session on Thursday.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

As of now, Montgomery is the sixth man. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said they'll stretch the lefty out this spring and can insert him into the rotation to give another starter a breather.

"We have to be creative. We have to look ahead, you have to watch your guys," Maddon said. "Do we give somebody a blow? Do we want to skip somebody? There's so many different things to look at.

"To become a member of the five-man on a consistent basis, somebody would have to be injured. We consider him our sixth starter and we'll work him in somehow."

Injuries are obviously not something the Cubs want to deal with. Last season, Lester, Hendricks and John Lackey spent time on the disabled list, while Jake Arrieta missed time in September because of a sore right hamstring.

"It's a big addition," Montgomery said of Darvish. "He's an unbelievable pitcher. It adds a confidence boost. Everyone here, we all know what it's like to have another pitcher like that on the staff. It makes other teams look at us and have a little more respect. It gives us that confidence that when we go out there, we could win every game."

• Darvish was Cubs' primary offseason target

The Cubs and Montgomery did talk about being more mindful of how they use the lefty so he's not going six innings one day and then being asked to pitch multiple innings in relief two days later. Maddon was impressed with how well Montgomery has handled the situation.

"Guys in his situation, it's not easy," Maddon said. "He has the ability to be a Major League starter, and he's done it and he's done it well. But he's caught in a situation where that opportunity doesn't present itself every fifth day right now. A lot of guys like that would want to go somewhere else badly and would not be accepting of their role. ... The fact that he wants to be here and fits in so well and understands exactly what's going on and is able to put his ego in his back pocket for the good of the team, it's just different and doesn't happen all the time."

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