03/27/08 4:29 PM ET
Murton likely headed for Triple-A
With addition of Johnson, outfielder could be odd man out
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Ronny Cedeno and Mike Fontenot will make the Cubs' final 25, and with the addition of Reed Johnson, Murton appears to be headed to Triple-A Iowa. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has been trying to work a deal to find someplace for the right-handed-hitting outfielder to play.
"I like Murton," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Thursday. "I mentioned [Wednesday] that if things don't work out here, I hope he gets a chance at a big league job. I think Jim feels the same way. I think Murton has options."
Murton does, and Cedeno does not. Fontenot, meanwhile, earned his spot with a solid spring, batting .283 in 25 games. Piniella told Fontenot on Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz., that he'd made the team in a casual way. Fontenot was walking past Piniella to get a bat in the dugout.
"I said, 'What's up, Skip?'" Fontenot said. "He asked me, 'Do you have a place in Chicago yet?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Well, you can get one.'"
Fontenot then sought out Ryan Theriot, his teammate at LSU and another Cub who had earned a spot with a great spring last year, and said, "Guess what Lou told me."
"It's always a dream come true to get to the big leagues, but especially when you can make the team right out of Spring Training, it's worth it," Fontenot said. "It's a very cool thing."
Right now, he's looking for an apartment. Murton isn't sure what to do.
"Players like to be in their comfort zone, they like to know what to expect," Murton said. "It's never comfortable with five different scenarios. All you can do is go about your business."
And if he's assigned to Iowa?
"I'd have to [go]," Murton said. "I wouldn't be happy -- I'd be lying if I said I'd be happy about it. It's a funny game -- it's a game in which you have to prove yourself every year, no matter who you are. I do believe I've proven enough to show I'm a Major League player and shouldn't be playing at Triple-A. That being said, you do what you have to do. I'm going to have to go down there and work hard and keep trying to prove yourself."
Piniella hasn't said anything to pitcher Kevin Hart, who also appears to have made the final 25. Hart figures he'll get on the bus with the team until he's told to get off.
"That's a good way to look at things," Piniella said.
One deal that didn't get done is the long-rumored trade with the Baltimore Orioles. Brian Roberts will be opening the season with the O's, and not leading off for the Cubs. Mark DeRosa will be at second base at Wrigley Field on Monday.
"I don't think DeRosa should've been worried," Piniella said. "If I were in his situation, I wouldn't give it too much thought."
The Cubs break camp with no major injuries, and have answered all the pre-spring questions. Kerry Wood is the closer, Ryan Dempster and Jason Marquis won spots in the rotation, Jon Lieber is in the bullpen, the youngsters have stepped up, and Scott Eyre is the only one injured.
"I like our ballclub, and I've said that many times before," Piniella said. "But we still have to go out and play."
Told that Sports Illustrated magazine also likes the Cubs and picked them to get to the World Series, Piniella paused.
"Let's hope they're right, that's all I can say," Piniella said.
Well, the magazine picked the Tigers to win the World Series, not the Cubs.
"Let's hope they're right about getting to the World Series part -- not the conclusion," Piniella said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.