3/29/2014 3:43 P.M. ET
Sweeney enters season with hot bat
By Barry M. Bloom and Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Ryan Sweeney's goal wasn't to lead the Cactus League in hits, but be ready for Opening Day. It looks like he's accomplished that.
The Cubs outfielder had three hits in 39 at-bats through last Monday. Since then, he's 6-for-9 entering play on Saturday, and hit his first home run on Thursday.
"There was a stretch when I didn't feel good but the last week, I feel good," Sweeney said.
His timing is perfect. He also wasn't worried about his numbers.
"To tell you the truth, I didn't even look at my stats or anything," Sweeney said. "I was just getting ready for [Opening day]. I knew I didn't get as many hits as I wanted to but I wasn't putting too much pressure on myself. I feel good now."
Sweeney didn't go to the Minor Leagues for extra at-bats the way Junior Lake and Welington Castillo did, but continued to stick to his sessions in the cage with hitting coach Bill Mueller.
"They key is to peak at the right time," Sweeney said. "Some guys might feel good at the beginning of Spring Training, and not feel good at the end. I feel good right now and once Spring Training is over, nobody remembers that anyway."
Schlitter claims final spot in Cubs' bullpen
PHOENIX -- The Cubs finalized their 25-man roster and final slot in the bullpen on Saturday by adding right-hander Brian Schlitter and designating right-hander Alberto Cabrera for assignment, manager Rick Renteria said before their final exhibition game of the spring against the D-backs at Chase Field.
The moves will be made procedurally on Sunday and are effective for Monday's season opener at Pittsburgh.
"Schlit really did a great job this spring," Renteria said. "After we assigned him, he kept doing his job, still kept doing his thing. We'd bring him back and use him, so he stuck to it."
Schlitter was 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA this spring, allowing 10 hits and two earned runs while walking only one and striking out nine in 8 2/3 innings over eight appearances.
Cabrera had looked sharp early. But in his last two outings, he struggled, including a game against the Angels on Tuesday, in which he gave up five runs on four hits over a third of an inning. Cabrera was 0-1 with 6.97 ERA in 10 1/3 innings covering 10 appearances and is out of options.
Schlitter joins a bullpen that includes closer Jose Veras, James Russell, Pedro Strop, Wesley Wright, Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm.
Renteria said he'll be able to use Schlitter in a multitude of ways.
"He obviously gives us a lot of flexibility," Renteria said. "He could be a multi-inning type guy. He has tremendous downward plane in his action. He's pretty good. So we would feel comfortable using him in any capacity."
Renteria has high expectations for Cubs
PHOENIX -- Rick Renteria closed his first spring as Cubs manager on Saturday on an upbeat note. While unconcerned about the low expectations elsewhere for his club this season, Renteria said the team has to live up to its own lofty goals.
"I've always expected to do things with success in mind," Renteria said before the Cubs played their final exhibition game against the D-backs at Chase Field. "I'm not changing my approach or my attitude. That's my expectations of my club. I think they have expectations of themselves. Quite frankly, if you don't set goals for yourself, there's nothing to shoot for.
"It's kind of hard to drive yourself. You need to have expectations and I think we should reach for the stars."
When asked what reaching for the stars meant, Renteria added: "I want to win the World Series, absolutely. Why not?"
The Cubs haven't done that since 1908. They haven't made the playoffs since 2008 and haven't had a winning season since 2009. They are coming off a 66-96 season and Renteria is the club's fourth manager since Mike Quade replaced Lou Piniella with 37 games to go in the 2010 season.
Renteria was hired after Dale Sveum was dismissed this past offseason.
The former Padres bench coach under manager Bud Black, Renteria said he felt comfortable in his first spring as a big league manager.
"I thought it went great," Renteria said. "I had a lot of good people around me. They really made it easy for me. The transition was actually very nice. Everybody worked very hard. Thankfully, there weren't a whole lot of complications."
Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. 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.