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Looking to make team, Rusin impresses vs. White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chris Rusin has done everything he can to convince the Cubs he's ready for the big leagues. Now, it's up to them.

On Friday, the left-hander gave up two hits over five scoreless innings in a 7-0 win over the White Sox. In his last three outings, Rusin has given up three hits, no runs, no walks and struck out five over 12 innings.

"I was able to pound the zone again with strikes with all my pitches," Rusin said, complimenting the defense as well. "I just need to work on my curveball for strikes and that's what I did today. So far, everything's going as planned."

That doesn't mean he can plan on where he'll be in April just yet. The Cubs do have an opening in the rotation. Jake Arrieta was projected to start, but he's been slowed with shoulder issues. The Cubs could use Carlos Villanueva in that spot until Arrieta is ready.

Is Rusin looking ahead?

"Nah -- it's getting close to the end [of camp]," he said. "I try not to. You've got to figure out where to live and all that, so you think about it a little bit. I'm still even keel and not thinking about too much."

The left-hander ranks second on the Cubs in Cactus League innings pitched this spring, although some, such as Travis Wood, have been staying on track in the Minor Leagues. On Friday, Wood tuned up for the season with six innings against the D-backs' Triple-A team, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks over six innings, striking out nine.

"I just have to keep doing what I'm doing, that's the only thing I can do," Rusin said. "I have to check the chart tomorrow and hopefully don't get a call into the manager's office. We'll see tomorrow."

Rusin has pitched in the big leagues the last two seasons, but wasn't called up until late in the season after roster moves were made.

Last spring, Rusin compiled a 1.93 ERA over four games, and held batters to a .218 average. But he didn't break with the team.

"My confidence is very high," the lefty said. "I had a great spring last year, too, but this year, to follow it up with another good spring, which is an important time for me, is big. I've just got to keep going, that's all I can say about that."

Cubs manager Rick Renteria knew Rusin would take a low-key approach.

"I don't think [Rusin] goes out there and thinks, 'God, I really need this,'" Renteria said. "I think he just goes out there and pitches. He's got a pretty decent mindset. He lets things take care of themselves."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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