Cubs set Opening Day roster, send three players to injured list
The Cubs set their Opening Day roster on Thursday morning, which included Seiya Suzuki, Kyle Hendricks and reliever Brandon Hughes going on the injured list.
Suzuki is on the 10-day IL with a left oblique strain, while Hendricks (right shoulder strain) and Hughes (left knee inflammation) are on the 15-day.
One other transaction was selecting pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. from Iowa. That creates a bullpen of Leiter, Brad Boxberger, Michael Fulmer, Michael Rucker, Julian Merryweather, Keegan Thompson, Javier Assad and Adbert Alzolay. All of those pitchers are right-handers, with no obvious closer. The only lefties on the current roster are starters Justin Steele and Drew Smyly.
"We just put the best pitcher in there to get the best pocket, setting them up for success," manager David Ross said Thursday morning. "We'll figure that out."
The position players include a third catcher, Luis Torrens; infielders Miles Mastrobuoni and Edwin Rios, and no true spare outfielder. Mastrobuoni is set to start in right field Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
"Our bench is as deep as it's been here for me," Ross said. "I think we have players we can plug and play in different scenarios that are really going to help us out this year. Some of the guys we sent down, some guys were willing not to opt out of assignments and stay in the organization; I'm happy for that Triple A group, I took a lot of his players last year. (Iowa manager Marty) Pevey is going to have a really deep bullpen and I think there are some stars on the horizon."
The Cubs are also taking the approach of the future can wait, since Christopher Morel and Matt Mervis will begin the season in Triple A Iowa.
"Morel enjoys playing baseball and he's a fun guy to have around," Ross said. "I think the best thing for us and for him is consistent at-bats. He has some areas he has to improve. He'll get off to a great start in Triple A and we'll be able to call him up if something happens."
Asked about expectations for this team, Ross didn't get specific.
"I think the road goes through St. Louis, when you're the defending champs, that's who you look toward," he said. "The expectation is to come in every single day, give ourselves a chance to win and look up at the end and see if that's the case."