Notes: Guzman tweaks delivery
Change in mound position may help right-hander make Cubs
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angel Guzman may need to simply move to his right to be more effective.
During a side session on Sunday, the Cubs right-hander was moved to the right side of the rubber, creating a different angle on his pitches to the hitter.
"He felt comfortable there," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said on Sunday. "I feel it'll help him, especially with right-handed hitters. I was really pleased."
Piniella didn't look at film of Guzman to suggest the switch. He looked at him as a hitter would.
"From hitting in the big leagues for a long time, I wanted to see why, with really, really, really good stuff, people don't swing and miss as much," Piniella said. "I think we picked up on something.
"His problem with right-handed hitters was, he couldn't get the ball in," Piniella said. "This is natural for him now. We'll see."
Guzman may find a spot on the Cubs' Opening Day roster in the bullpen as a long reliever.
"I like the idea of bringing along a young pitcher in the bullpen," Piniella said. "We'll see how the numbers work. I do like this kid a lot."
The other young pitcher whom Piniella likes is right-hander Rocky Cherry.
"They're young kids who have been in camp here and have been impressive," Piniella said of Guzman and Cherry. "I feel they can definitely help us if there's room. I like both kids. I'd feel very comfortable with either kid in our mix. Whether that happens or not, I don't know."
Piniella is still trying to determine the final 12 pitchers he'll carry. Yes, he's going with 12.
"I talked to [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] about 11 again today, and every time I say that, his Adam's apple gets a little tight," Piniella said. "I think the number will be 12."
Arms update: Cubs closer Ryan Dempster could throw a side session on Monday, then pitch in a game on Wednesday, or throw in a game on Monday if he feels good. Dempster experienced some spasms in the back of his shoulder.
Kerry Wood threw off flat ground on Sunday, and he'll throw a side session on Tuesday. If he continues to progress, Wood will pitch in a game on Thursday or Friday.
"If not, time's running out on Woody, too," Piniella said. "He's only pitched three innings all spring."
Arms race: Reliever Neal Cotts has given up runs in each of his outings this spring, although he was not charged with any earned runs on March 9 against the Rangers. On Saturday against the Padres, he served up two runs on two hits and one walk in one inning.
"I thought it was going well until [Saturday]," Cotts said. "There wasn't a whole lot of good to take out of it. I was rushing, and the throws were up. The time bfore, the ball was getting down. Also, I fell behind batters early."
That's not a good formula for success. Is the problem Arizona? It's tough to gauge pitching here.
"I don't think so," said Cotts, a left-hander acquired during the offseason from the White Sox for David Aardsma. "You have to make pitches, no matter where you are. Everybody else has pitched well here."
Perfect setup: In the first inning on Saturday, Alfonso Soriano walked and Matt Murton followed with a single to right to allow Soriano to reach third. Eventually, all three scored on Derrek Lee's home run. The key was Murton's hit. It helped Soriano advance.
"The game of baseball is not set up for hitters to have a ton of success, but at the same time, you have to be able to do your job," Murton said. "Sometimes, it's easier than others based on what they're throwing, based on who's on the mound. In that situation, the guy threw me a fastball away, and I tried to go that way, and when he leaves the ball away from you, it makes it easier to do."
Some may be fighting for that No. 2 spot because of the potential for an overload of fastballs.
"There's a lot of guys on this team who can play and really hit," Murton said. "Anywhere in this lineup, there will be a chance for production. I feel blessed to be part of a lineup like that. The two-spot will be an interesting position in the lineup this year. It'll demand a lot of responsibility -- there will be a lot of things to do. At the same time, there will be advantages, because you might get pitches you won't see in other spots."
On Saturday, Murton talked to Soriano about what he wants the No. 2 hitter to do to help the outfielder advance.
"It's a matter of us becoming more and more comfortable with each other," Murton said. "There are definitely things you want to do -- working together -- and not just me, but other guys. Over time, we'll figure it out."
Saturday's game was a perfect setup.
"If we could only write it up that way every time," Murton said.
Go Irish: A fan decked in green, including a flashy lime-green wig, walked onto the field to throw a ceremonial first pitch for the Cubs' St. Patrick's Day game against the Padres. Trouble is, the guy wasn't on the list of people authorized to do so. Dempster, being the convivial guy that he is, joined in the spirit of the day.
"I just grabbed a glove and went out and caught him," Dempster said. "I shook his hand, and he said, 'I'm not supposed to be out here.' I thought he meant he was missing work or something."
No, the guy wasn't supposed to be on the field, and he was eventually escorted out of HoHoKam Park by security.
"He seemed really, really happy to be Irish," Dempster said.
Extra bases: Through Sunday, Daryle Ward was batting .111 this spring, with three hits in 27 at-bats. "He's not swinging the bat at all," Piniella said after Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Angels. "It looks like he's feeling for the ball. He'll get some at-bats [Monday]." ... Ryan Theriot and Ronny Cedeno were the only Cubs to get a hit on Sunday. "Here in Arizona, you'd like to see more hitting," Piniella said. ... Cliff Floyd was the designated hitter on Sunday, and he will start in left field on Monday in Mesa. ... Looking ahead, the Cubs will make their final trip to Tucson on Tuesday to face the Colorado Rockies. Ted Lilly is scheduled to make the start.
Up next: The Cubs will play their last split-squad games on Monday. Half the team will be in Mesa to play host to the Mariners at 3:05 p.m. CT, with Wade Miller, the frontrunner for the fifth spot in the Cubs' rotation, slated to take the hill for that game, making his fourth start. Entering Monday, he had given up four earned runs on 13 hits over nine spring innings. The other half of the team will travel to Maryvale to face the Brewers at 3:05 p.m. Sean Gallagher, a 12th-round pick in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, and Sean Marshall are both slated to pitch in that game. It will be Marshall's first Cactus League appearance and the first spring start for Gallagher, who has been slowed by left shoulder pain.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.