Marshall is Cubs' 5th starter; Heilman to 'pen

Published3/20/2009 12:01 AM

PEORIA, Ariz. - The Cubs' pitching picture got a whole lot clearer Thursday.

Manager Lou Piniella announced that lefty Sean Marshall has indeed won the fifth-starter's job and that Aaron Heilman will go to the bullpen.


Heilman started Thursday's 9-2 win over the Mariners and picked up his first victory against no losses. He worked 32/3 innings, giving up an unearned run and lowering his ERA to 1.32.

Heading into spring training, the fifth spot was Marshall's to lose.

"I had a nice talk with Aaron," Piniella said after the game. "I told him he'd done an outstanding job. Marshall's going to be the fifth stater, and Heilman, I told him he's going to pitch in the seventh-, eighth-inning role. He was fine with it and said he would help in any way he could."

Piniella also said right-hander Jeff Samardzija is now in the mix for a relief role, not a spot in the starting rotation.

"I talked to Samardzija today about the fact that he's going to be given every chance for a bullpen job," Piniella said. "And it's up to him to grab it. We've been looking at him as a starter, and he's not going to start."

Piniella added there are a couple of bullpen jobs open behind Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol, Neal Cotts, Heilman and perhaps Chad Gaudin or Luis Vizcaino, neither of whom have had great springs.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service

"There are two jobs open in that bullpen as far as I'm concerned," Piniella said. "We've got probably about six candidates, and we'll let them compete here the last two weeks and see who wants to grab it."

Rule 5 draft pick David Patton is in the mix, but longtime prospect Angel Guzman could be in trouble, and he's out of minor-league options.

Catch this: Geovany Soto rejoined the Cubs after his time with Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

The question remaining is who backs up Soto behind the plate. Koyie Hill had a single Thursday and is bating .394. He appears to have a lead over Paul Bako and Mark Johnson.

"We're still sorting it out, but I will say this: Hill's had a real nice spring," Lou Piniella said.

Koskie leaves early: Third baseman Corey Koskie left after batting in the third inning after telling the Cubs he wasn't feeling good. Koskie is trying to come back after a 21/2-year absence because of post-concussion syndrome.


"He told us he wasn't feeling well ... and we took him out of the ballgame," Lou Piniella said. "We have more for you tomorrow. I think when he dove for (a groundball), it caused him some problems. He mentioned he wasn't feeling well, so we took him out of the ballgame."

Bradley and Lee: Right fielder Milton Bradley returned to camp and was passing out bubble-gum cigars after his wife gave birth to a son, Noah. He's expected to play Friday.

First baseman Derrek Lee also should see action Friday. He's been out with a sore right quadriceps. Lee also turned down a chance to play for Team USA in the WBC. USA starter Kevin Youkilis is out with an ankle injury, but Lee won't replace him.

"I'm not going," Lee said. "I'm not even playing here. I haven't heard from anyone. I talked to the trainer about it."


Get articles sent to your inbox.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.