Cactus Notes: Cubs reduce roster to 31 players

Mesa, Ariz. — The Cubs are closer to finalizing their Opening Day roster after sending nine players to minor league camp Thursday, trimming their ranks from 40 players to 31.

Left-handed pitchers Scott Maine and Travis Wood, righty Randy Wells, outfielder Dave Sappelt and catcher Welington Castillo have all been optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Infielders Edgar Gonzalez and Matt Tolbert, righty Blake Parker and catcher Blake Lalli—all non-roster invitees—were assigned to minor league camp.

Manager Dale Sveum announced his Opening Day rotation will consist of Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm.

Wood and Wells were in the rotation mix heading into Spring Training, but were outpitched by Volstad and Samardzija. Wood struggled in Mesa, with a 17.28 ERA in 8.1 innings, surrendering 16 earned runs and three home runs. Wells, on the other hand, didn’t give up a run in his 7.1 spring innings, surrendering just four hits.

Castillo spent much of the spring battling Steve Clevenger for the backup catcher position. Though the 23-year-old Castillo hit .324 in 37 at-bats in the preseason, including a pair of home runs, the Cubs ultimately liked Clevenger’s lefty, line-drive bat and poise.

The roster, which needs to be cut down to 25 by next Thursday, currently sits at 16 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders and six outfielders.

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