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Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, Mesa, Arizona, Friday 3/16, 3:05 CT

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Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs players warm up along the right field line at Hohokam Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE
Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs players warm up along the right field line at Hohokam Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- One of the things that's most worrisome about the 2012 Cubs is the bullpen. Right now, the starting rotation actually looks decent. True, there's no actual "ace", but Matt Garza is pretty good at the top; Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm are competent behind him, and Chris Volstad and Randy Wells are fine at the back end. All those guys are capable of pitching through the sixth inning most of the time.

But then what? Carrie Muskat says only Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood are guaranteed bullpen spots (and neither of those two have been stellar this spring). Here are the other choices:

Among the pitchers whom Cubs manager Dale Sveum cited Thursday for being considered were Marcos Mateo, Rafael Dolis, James Russell, Blake Parker, and Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo.

"There's five, six, seven guys capable of winning those spots," Sveum said. "Dolis is very impressive, being able to throw a 94-, 95-mile-an-hour ball that sinks that much and with that kind of depth. Mateo's slider is a swing-and-miss slider. Parker throws a very heavy fastball with a good slider, as well. All these guys are in the running for these spots. It's going to be interesting."

Well. First of all, I'd think Russell is pretty much in, considering the Cubs will need a lefthander or two. Dolis is a rising star and could eventually be closer material. And personally, I think Jeff Samardzija (who, as you will note, I did not mention as one of the rotation above) could be a solid setup man along with Wood.

So that'd be Marmol, Wood, Russell, Dolis and Samardzija -- five of the seven. I haven't seen enough of L. Castillo to make a determination; Parker seems like a minor league lifer to me, and I think everyone here knows what I think of Mateo.

So we'll see. It will, as Sveum said, "be interesting."

Cubs lineup:

DeJesus RF, Byrd CF, Castro SS, Rizzo 1B, Mather 3B, Clevenger C, Sappelt LF, Cardenas 2B, Garza P

Giants lineup was not available at posting time.

Matt Garza starts for the Cubs this afternoon. Hopefully, he'll do better than last time. For the Giants it'll be Eric Surkamp.

Today's game is on cubs.com with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie. Here is the MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Note that for spring training gameday links, you probably will not get pitch-by-pitch as during the regular season; these are unofficial links. Each play will be posted, but might not be updated until after each half-inning.

There will be one overflow thread, which will post at 4:30 pm CT. The "Recent Stories in Game Threads" box on the sidebar is where you'll find it.

Please visit our SB Nation Giants site McCovey Chronicles.

Discuss amongst yourselves.