The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 30, 2013

Reds expected to repeat in NL Central


PITTSBURGH — Chicago Cubs

2012: 61-101, fifth place.

Manager: Dale Sveum (second season).

He’s here: RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Scott Baker, RHP Scott Feldman, RHP Carlos Villanueva, RHP Kyuji Fujikawa, C Dioner Navarro, OF Nate Schierholtz.

He’s outta here: 1B-RF Bryan LaHair, RHP Chris Volstad, C Anthony Recker.

Projected lineup: CF David DeJesus (.263, 9 HRs, 50 RBI), SS Starlin Castro (.283, 14, 78), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.285, 15, 48 in 87 games), LF Alfonso Soriano (.262, 32, 108), RF Nate Schierholtz (.257, 6, 21 with San Francisco and Philadelphia) or Scott Hairston (.263, 20, 57 with Mets), 2B Darwin Barney (.254, 7, 44), C Welington Castillo (.265, 5, 22), 3B Luis Valbuena (.219, 4, 28).

Rotation: RH Jeff Samardzija (9-13, 3.81 ERA, 180 Ks), RH Edwin Jackson (10-11, 4.03 with Washington), RH Matt Garza (5-7, 3.91, 18 starts), RH Scott Feldman (6-11, 5.09 with Texas), LH Travis Wood (6-13, 4.27) or RH Carlos Villanueva (7-7, 4.16 in 38 games, 16 starts with Toronto).

Hot spots: Garza is expected to be sidelined until early to mid-May because of a strained left lat, a blow to the Cubs on two fronts. He’s one of their best pitchers and one of their most attractive trade chips. Soriano’s name also is a regular in the rumor mill, and Marmol’s status as closer seems shaky, given the deal in place with the Los Angeles Angels for pitcher Dan Haren that fell through and the arrival of Fujikawa from Japan. Also, third baseman Ian Stewart is opening the season on the DL with a strained left quadriceps, and Baker will miss the start of the season after elbow surgery that forced him to miss all of 2012 for Minnesota.

Outlook: As they enter the second year of the Theo Epstein era, the Cubs remain in the early stages of a building process. They did, however, try to speed things along. They made a big play for Anibal Sanchez before he re-signed with Detroit and then signed Jackson to a $52 million, four-year deal, all after the Marmol-Haren trade fell through. Those were breaks from the smaller deals the Cubs had made to that point under Epstein. They still have a long way to go, though.


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