Cubs trim roster, send Mervis to minors

The Cubs sent 10 players to the minors Thursday, trimming the major league roster to 41. They need to be at 26 players by Opening Day on Mar. 30.

Outfielder Nelson Velazquez was optioned to Iowa; while infielders Matt Mervis, David Bote, Sergio Alcantara; catcher Dom Nunez; outfielder Ben DeLuzio; and pitchers Nick Burdi, Manuel Rodriguez, Cam Sanders and Brendon Little.

Mervis was named Cubs minor league player of the year in 2022 after hitting a combined .309 with 36 home runs and 119 RBI at three different levels. It was the best offensive performance by a Cubs prospect since Kris Bryant in 2014. There was some thought he could open this season at first base, but the Cubs signed Eric Hosmer and Trey Mancini as free agents, basically ensuring Mervis would start the year at Iowa.

Bote has had a good spring, hitting .357, but there's not a spot for him in the Cubs infield right now. Velazquez made his big-league debut last year and hit .205 in 77 games.

The Cubs beat Arizona 11-1 in spring training action on Thursday. Pitching was a highlight as Hayden Wesneski threw 5 innings, allowing just an unearned run, then Keegan Thompson followed with 2 perfect innings.

Outfielder Mike Tauchman contributed an RBI double. After a fast start this spring, the Fremd High School grad is hitting .229.

Suzuki getting closer to return:

Outfielder Seiya Suzuki is making good progress from an oblique injury and it's possible he could be ready to return by mid-April. Tauchman is in the mix to help replace Suzuki early, but the Cubs are also loaded with spare infielders who can play in the corners, like Patrick Wisdom, Christopher Morel, Zach McKinstry and Miles Mastrobuoni.

Mastrobuoni contributed a 2-run single Thursday. He's having a good spring, hitting .333, while McKinstry is just 2-for-31 at the plate. Shortstop Dansby Swanson is 2-for-34 after Thursday's action.

Around the horn:

Second baseman Nico Hoerner was scratched from the Arizona game with left biceps tightness. The Cubs traded minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz to Philadelphia for cash considerations.

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