03/05/2013 7:00 PM ET
Bogusevic could be latest to earn roster spot
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Last spring, Joe Mather was the surprise player in Cubs camp, batting .382 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 26 games. He won a spot on the 25-man roster with his play.
Brian Bogusevic could be next.
"He's been the Joe Mather of camp so far," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Bogusevic, who was batting .533 in eight games.
A left-handed hitter, Bogusevic could be valuable, especially if he could not only play outfield but back up at first if needed.
"The at-bats he's put together, the at-bats he's had against left-handed pitching [have been good], and he has a pretty good track record in the big leagues as a pinch-hitter as well," Sveum said. "He's the leader in camp right now with everything. I've been impressed with his outfield play, his arm. I know he can play the outfield, so I'm going to get him as much time as I can at first base. He said he's not super comfortable there."
Last season, the Palos Heights, Ill., native batted .203 in 146 games with the Astros, and hit .242 as a pinch-hitter. Mather was outrighted to the Minor Leagues, and became a free agent, eventually signing a Minor League contract with the Phillies. He batted .209 in 103 games with the Cubs.
Feldman undeterred by rough outing
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Scott Feldman can shrug off Tuesday's start because he still has time to get things straightened out. However, he is way ahead of schedule in terms of his hitting.
The Cubs right-hander gave up four runs on six hits over two-plus innings to the Rockies in his second Cactus League start on Tuesday. He departed after serving up Wilin Rosario's two-run homer in the third.
"If you're going to have an outing like today, it's a good thing to have it in spring and not the regular season," Feldman said. "It's an opportunity to kind of sit back and look at things and what I need to work on and make a little bit of adjustment. From where I am right now, second start of spring, I'm just happy I feel good and my fastball is where it needs to be."
Tuesday was the Cubs' first game without using a designated hitter and Feldman, who has limited Interleague at-bats, was the first Cubs player to get a hit with a soft single to right with two outs in the third.
"I didn't hit that ball really hard, but I actually broke the bat," he said. "It'll look like a line drive in the box score."
Before the game, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Feldman could be slotted in the No. 3 spot in the rotation.
"We've obviously got to get [Matt] Garza healthy and [Scott Baker], too," Feldman said. "I'm just going to keep going about my business and try to hone in on getting that off-speed stuff to where I can throw it for a strike at any count. I'm excited about the start of the season and the opportunity get out there and pitch."
He's scouting his teammates as well and was impressed by second baseman Darwin Barney's play to end the second in which he snared Josh Rutledge's grounder that was headed to center, spun and made a throw in time.
"He's made a lot of good plays so far this spring," Feldman said of the Gold Glove second baseman. "You have guys like that behind you, you're not afraid to pitch to contact."
Order for back of rotation still up in the air
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum said they're still looking at matchups to determine how the starting pitchers will line up for the opening week of play.
Jeff Samardzija will kick things off April 1 against the Pirates and be followed by Edwin Jackson. Scott Feldman may start the third game, but that could change. Feldman has faced Pittsburgh twice in his career, and given up six runs on 14 hits over 7 2/3 innings. Carlos Villanueva and Travis Wood round out the rotation.
Samardzija will tune up with a 10 a.m. "B" game in Surprise, Ariz., on Wednesday against the Rangers. It's a long drive.
"If he wants to pitch, that's where he has to go," Sveum said, laughing.
The Cubs play the Rangers in Surprise on Wednesday. Why not have Samardzija start that game?
"He wanted to go and get his work in," Sveum said. "It's perfect because he's just going to go and throw 15, 17 pitches an inning. He'll go four innings, then [Blake] Parker will pitch two innings."
Time limited for Stewart in spring recovery
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ian Stewart was able to hit, take ground balls and jog on Tuesday, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum admitted there isn't much time for the third baseman to get ready for the start of the season.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say there's a big question," Sveum said when asked if Stewart had enough time to make the roster for the April 1 opener. "There just aren't that many at-bats. You have to be productive in those at-bats. [Luis] Valbuena is playing and doing a real good job."
Valbuena took over the third base job last year after Stewart needed to undergo surgery on his left wrist. This spring, Stewart doubled in his first at-bat in an intrasquad game Feb. 21, and pulled up because of a sore left quad. He has not played since, and the hope is that he will get into a Cactus League game in one week.
Last season, Stewart batted .201 in 55 games before he was shut down. The Cubs do need more production at third base, and would like Stewart to have a repeat of 2009 when he hit 25 home runs and drove in 70 runs.
"Hopefully it all comes together because by the time he gets on the field, you're looking at 20 to 30 maybe regular at-bats [this spring]," Sveum said. "We'll probably send him down to hit in a Minor League game and have him lead off every game."
If he's not ready, Valbuena would start at third. He batted .219 last year with the Cubs, but hit .306 this winter in Venezuela.
• Starlin Castro was able to run and took some ground balls at shortstop on Tuesday, continuing to progress from a tight left hamstring that has sidelined him for one week.
Castro was not expected to get into a game until Monday.
"It's kind of a non-issue now," Sveum said. "Because we have the luxury to do it, we're going to make sure he's completely healthy, even though he's completely healthy now. He'll get plenty of playing time going into the season so there's no reason to rush it."
Castro played in all 162 games last season.
• There was no controversy over using the designated hitter on Tuesday for the Cubs-Rockies game. On Monday, the Reds and D-backs had some miscommunication that got a little ugly, but Sveum said bench coach Jamie Quirk double-checks. Tuesday was the first day the Cubs did not use the designated hitter.
"It's time for those guys to start hitting," Sveum said. "Even if it's one at-bat, at least they see pitching."
Feldman did fine in his only at-bat, and collected the first Cubs hit off Jeff Francis with two outs in the third.
• The Topps Company and the Cubs have partnered to create an exclusive, 82-card Topps Archives set, featuring current and former Cubs players on classic Topps card designs. The player and design pairings are unique to the set, which will be delivered to Cubs season-ticket holders as part of their package.
Cubs fans will have the chance to secure the entire 82-card set by attending all four Topps promotional games at Wrigley Field. The cards will be given away in four installments on the following dates:
May 3 vs. the Reds: Cards 1-20, featuring Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Shawon Dunston, Andre Dawson and Anthony Rizzo, among others.
July 5 vs. the Pirates: Cards 21-40, featuring Dave Kingman, Ryne Sandberg, Kerry Wood, Greg Maddux, Jeff Samardzija and Alfonso Soriano, among others.
Aug. 2 vs. the Dodgers: Cards 41-60, featuring Billy Williams, Starlin Castro, Dennis Eckersley, Anthony Rizzo, Mark Grace, Glenn Beckert and Darwin Barney, among others.
Aug. 30 vs. the Phillies: Cards 61-82, featuring Lee Smith, Milt Pappas, Keith Moreland, Fergie Jenkins and Rick Sutcliffe, plus a "Future Stars" card with Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Javier Baez.
Tickets for the promotional dates are available for purchase now in a custom Cubs six-game pack titled the "Topps Baseball Card Pack," available at www.cubs.com/packs. The first 10,000 fans at each game will receive a pack of the cards outlined above. Collectors are encouraged to arrive early to ensure they receive the cards.
These cards are only available during the designated promotional dates at Wrigley Field and the sets will not be sold through retail. For a complete checklist of the cards included in the set, visit www.cubs.com/Topps.
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.