'Pen plan must clear up this weekend
Piniella scratching his head over Cubs' final two spots
MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs bullpen is new, possibly improved and definitely incomplete.
"I don't think that bullpen situation is any clearer now than it was three or four days ago," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I really don't."
David Patton, who -- along with Angel Guzman, Jeff Samardzija and Chad Gaudin -- is vying to fill one of the final two spots in the bullpen, earned the win in Thursday's 9-8 victory against the Indians at HoHoKam Park, but it is unclear if he earned any brownie points. The Rule 5 Draft pick gave up three hits, one walk and one run in the top of the ninth inning. His throwing error on a pickoff attempt at first base in the final inning allowed Wilson Valdez to motor to third base. Valdez later tied the game at 8 on a single by Jamey Carroll.
The Cubs' victory was salvaged in the bottom of the ninth inning on an RBI single by Andres Blanco.
"Regardless of what we do and who we take, we will have six new pitchers in that bullpen, and that's a lot," Piniella said. "The only pitcher that left here with us last year is [Carlos] Marmol, so that's a brand-new bullpen. We are going to have to learn how to use them. We're going to have to use them right, and some of them are going to have to pitch better than they have pitched this week."
The decision on the final two slots in the bullpen might not come until after the club's exhibition games against the Yankees in New York on Friday and Saturday, because the Cubs have until Sunday afternoon to set the team's 25-man roster. Patton will pitch Saturday, Piniella said.
"He showed a little inexperience throwing the ball away over there at first base," Piniella said. "I'm not disappointed. The kid has had a real good spring. Give him all the credit in the world."
Overall, Patton has a 1.35 ERA in 13 1/3 innings over 12 games this spring. He's allowed two runs, given up 13 hits, walked three batters and struck out 15.
Gaudin also pitched Thursday, allowing three runs on six hits in two innings to raise his ERA from 10.54 to 10.91. Overall this spring, Gaudin has allowed 26 hits and walked 10 batters in 15 2/3 innings.
The 26-year-old is owed $2 million this year.
As for Samardzija, he is 0-1 with a 7.63 ERA in 15 1/3 innings, but he is not out of Minor League options and could be assigned to Triple-A Iowa. Guzman, on the other hand, is out of options.
"That's the tricky part with me," Guzman said. "I don't know where I'm going because I don't have control of that. I want to stay. This is the team that I started with and where I want to finish, but we will see what happens."
Guzman is 0-1 with 7.94 ERA in 11 1/3 innings over 10 games. The right-handed pitcher said he is pleased with his performance this spring but points out that his statistics don't tell the whole story.
On March 2 against the Diamondbacks, in his second outing of Spring Training, Guzman gave up three runs on three hits in one inning of work. On March 14 against the Angels, he gave up four runs on three hits in one inning pitched. Take away the two innings and Guzman has a 2.89 ERA in 9 1/3 innings in eight appearances.
"I've had my highs and lows, but I've only had two bad outings where I didn't demonstrate command of my pitches," Guzman said. "After the game with the Angels, I worked hard in the bullpen. I changed my mechanics a little bit, and it made a difference. It was just a little adjustment."
The Cubs open the season on Monday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
"Ever hear of a blanket finish? It's a blanket finish. I don't know," Piniella said. "We will see what happens over the weekend in New York."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.