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03/21/12 6:11 PM ET

Cubs sticking with LaHair to give Rizzo time

MESA, Ariz. -- Bryan LaHair is batting .189 this spring while Anthony Rizzo is hitting .375. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer insisted LaHair is their first baseman and Rizzo needs more time.

LaHair spent Monday at the Cubs' Minor League camp, getting nine at-bats in a game.

"The guy had such a great year last year, there's no reason to think he won't snap out of it," Hoyer said of LaHair, who led the Pacific Coast League with 38 homers. "Maybe he's having the worst two weeks of his year -- hopefully he is. It's not something to worry about."

Rizzo is waiting in the wings. Hoyer repeated on Tuesday in a chat with Cubs beat writers that the highly touted first baseman, whom he has now traded for twice, will open the season in the Minor Leagues, as will top prospect Brett Jackson.

"You want to finish those guys off the right way," Hoyer said. "They're not finished products yet. Our goal is to make sure these guys play in Chicago for a long time and are finished products. We have to take the long-term view of that, more than anything. You don't want to rush a guy and ruin his confidence and then spend a year and a half rebuilding that confidence."

Hoyer and Jason McLeod, the Cubs' scouting and player development director, will always be linked to Rizzo. They drafted him when the two were in the Red Sox's front office, traded for him when both were in San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, and acquired him again from the Padres for Andrew Cashner.

"Jason, Theo [Epstein] and I all believe he has the ability to be a middle-of-the-order bat for a long time," Hoyer said. "He's 22 years old. We think we'll get the best years out of Anthony."

Good news for Cubs after Marmol's MRI

MESA, Ariz. -- An MRI of Cubs pitcher Carlos Marmol revealed no significant nerve injury, and he remains on schedule.

The closer was pulled from Tuesday's game because of a cramp in his right hand. The medical staff wanted Marmol to undergo the MRI as a precautionary measure.

Marmol started the seventh against the Rangers at HoHoKam Park and got the first two batters out, then hit Chris Robinson. Marmol threw two pitches to Mike Olt and manager Dale Sveum noticed the pitcher flexing his right hand. Sveum and athletic trainer Ed Halbur went to the mound and the right-hander was lifted, although Marmol argued to stay in the game.

Sveum said when he first saw Marmol's reaction after his last pitch, he was worried that the injury was more serious.

"Thank God it was just [a hand cramp] -- that was kind of a throw that looked like an elbow thing," Sveum said.

Maholm pleased with results of Minors start

MESA, Ariz. -- Paul Maholm may have been facing the Giants' Class A team on Wednesday, but the Cubs lefty accomplished what he set out to do in a Minor League game at Fitch Park.

Maholm struck out seven over five innings and gave up one run on two hits and a walk. The only run scored with one out in the second inning when a batter doubled, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly.

"It was good," Maholm said. "I'm getting a little better with pitch sequences and everything, but as far as getting ahead of hitters and challenging them, that was the main thing I wanted to do. When I threw first-pitch breaking balls, they were for strikes, for the most part. There were some pitches that obviously weren't perfect, but that's part of it. It was a building block and a positive to get through it with five innings."

Maholm has made two Cactus League starts. Wednesday was an off-day for the rest of the Cubs, but Maholm started for Class A Daytona to stay on schedule.

"I have two or three more [starts]," Maholm said. "You have to make sure you're ready and don't get too ramped up and make sure you're ready for the season, which is the biggest thing, and your health is good, which is the main concern at this point. I just want to keep building up pitches and innings."

Hoyer: 'No merit' to Soler contract rumors

MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer called rumors that the team had a deal in place to sign Cuban prospect Jorge Soler "bogus" and said they don't know when the outfielder will become a free agent.

There have been reports since mid-February that the Cubs were supposedly close to a deal with Soler, and some mentioned the 19-year-old had agreed to a three-year, $27.5 million contract.

"The rumors that we have a deal with him are completely bogus," Hoyer said. "I don't know where that started. Those are rumors, and they have no merit."

What is true is that the Cubs have scouted Soler and also watched another Cuban outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes, who recently signed with the Athletics.

Chicago has added a Cuban player, signing left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion to a five-year, $6 million contract on March 11.

Concepcion, who turned 20 in February, will receive a $3 million signing bonus, and the rest of the $3 million will be spread over the length of the contract. He was 10-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 21 games last season.

The left-hander was in the Cubs' Minor League camp, and the team has yet to determine where he'll be assigned this season.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.