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updated: 3/29/2014 8:07 PM

Park Ridge native Schlitter earns roster spot

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  • The Cubs' Starlin Castro made only his third Cactus League appearance and first since the opening week of the exhibition season Saturday against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Castro was 0-for-2 with a walk.

      The Cubs' Starlin Castro made only his third Cactus League appearance and first since the opening week of the exhibition season Saturday against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix. Castro was 0-for-2 with a walk.
    Associated Press

 
 

PHOENIX -- It's been a long road back to the big leagues for Park Ridge resident Brian Schlitter.

That road came to a good stop Saturday when the Cubs announced that Schlitter had made the 25-man roster as the final bullpen pitcher.

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"It's pretty amazing," said Schlitter, a graduate of Maine South High School.

The 28-year-old Schlitter last pitched in the major leagues in 2010, when he appeared in seven games for the Cubs. Since then, he battled shoulder and elbow injuries, missing the entire 2011 season.

He came to spring training as a nonroster man and was sent back to minor league camp. But when Alberto Cabrera failed to hold on to the final spot, the Cubs called Schlitter back.

"He deserves all the credit because he did this," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria. "I tip my hat to him because he epitomizes the stick-to-itiveness to get out there and play. That's what he did.

"He gives us a lot of flexibility. He could be a multi-inning type guy. He's got tremendous downward plane in his action. He's pretty good. We would feel comfortable using him in any capacity."

The Cubs will go with a seven-man bullpen: closer Jose Veras, lefties James Russell and Wesley Wright and right-handers Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Schlitter and Justin Grimm.

Rondon is another nice story. He was a Rule 5 pick in December 2012, and the Cubs had to keep him on the major-league roster all of last year. But he acquitted himself well and was able to keep a big-league job.

Schlitter said he got the good news late Friday night. It was especially sweet, given his injury history and the fact that he's a local guy.

"I never lost hope," he said. "I knew it would be difficult getting back here, but I just decided to work hard and get myself back in position to make the team. I didn't see it coming. I was hoping that it was coming, but it was a nice surprise. It's nice. My whole family lives (in Park Ridge), so they can come to the games."

Cabrera, who appeared in 32 games for the Cubs over the past two seasons, will be designated for assignment.

Wrapping it up:

Right-hander Jason Hammel had a solid final spring tuneup as he worked 4 scoreless innings in the Cubs' 9-8 victory over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Hammel, who starts Thursday in the series finale at Pittsburgh, gave up 2 hits while walking none and striking out five.

Shortstop Starlin Castro made only his third Cactus League appearance and his first since the opening week of the exhibition season as he comes back from a hamstring injury. Castro grounded out, flied out and walked before coming of the game as Rick Renteria emptied the bench.

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