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3/23/2014 5:24 P.M. ET

Fujikawa's progress has Cubs optimistic

MESA, Ariz. -- It's been one month since Kyuji Fujikawa started throwing on the side, and the Cubs' right-hander continues to make progress in his comeback from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Fujikawa, who had the surgery last June, threw 45 pitches on Sunday in a side session and was getting close to throwing live batting practice, Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Sunday.

"He's slowly graduating to finally getting out there to live BP," Renteria said. "He's moving along."

Fujikawa will open the season on the disabled list, but the Cubs are optimistic he could be available this season.

"It's good -- it's real good," Renteria said of the right-hander's progress.

Cubs option reliever Ramirez, release Wada

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs optioned right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez to Triple-A Iowa, and lefty Tsuyoshi Wada was granted his unconditional release on Sunday, to reduce the spring camp roster to 35.

Wada was a non-roster invitee whom the Cubs were considering for the fifth spot in the rotation. The left-hander gave up seven runs on 10 hits and five walks over 5 2/3 innings in three games, including one start.

The Cubs' spring camp roster now consists of 16 pitchers, four catchers, eight infielders and seven outfielders.

Jose Veras, Pedro Strop, James Russell, Wesley Wright and Carlos Villanueva are set for the bullpen, unless the Cubs decided to use Villanueva as the fifth starter at the beginning of the season. Other relievers still in the mix include Justin Grimm, Hector Rondon and Alberto Cabrera, who is out of options.

"I don't know if being out of options is the defining factor of somebody's thinking," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said about putting together the 25-man roster. "I think their performances dictate that."

The next roster cuts are expected after Tuesday's day-night split-squad games.

Castro seeing action at Cubs' Minors side

MESA, Ariz. -- Starlin Castro spent Sunday in the Minor Leagues, getting at-bats to make up for time missed because of a strained right hamstring.

Castro was injured March 2 in the Cubs' third Cactus League game while running the bases, and got seven at-bats on Saturday in a Minor League game.

"If he does well, we're looking to get him some Minor League defensive innings also," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Sunday.

Castro is running out of time to be ready by Opening Day as the Cubs head into the final week of Cactus League games.

"We have to make sure we're careful with him," Renteria said. "He came in today and was all smiles, which is good. I'm glad he wants to play it out. We know baseball fitness is another component of the recovery process."

Castro strained his left hamstring last spring, and only missed two weeks, and was ready for the start of the season. The Cubs have played Darwin Barney and Donnie Murphy at shortstop this spring to prepare in case Castro isn't ready.

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.