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Hoge’s Spring Training Notebook: Decision Day For Cubs

Dale Sveum. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Dale Sveum. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge—

MESA, Ariz. (CBS)  – Go ahead and call it “The Meeting”.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum will sit down with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer Wednesday night and make the final roster decisions before the team breaks camp next week.

Most of the 25-man roster is already set, but the rotation still needs to be finalized as does the final bullpen spots and the backup catcher position.

Jeff Samardzija will likely get the last rotation spot, but he struggled in his last game, giving up 10 hits and seven earned runs in just four innings against the Rockies. He gets the start Wednesday against the Indians at HoHoKam Stadium, and Sveum didn’t sugarcoat the importance of the start.

“Performance is everything,” he said. “We got decisions to make tonight and part of his performance today will have something to do with those decisions.”

That said, Sveum also hinted that Randy Wells is still destined for the long-reliever role, which means Samardzija is still the favorite for the last rotation spot barring a complete disaster Wednesday.

The final bullpen spot is a little more wide open as Shawn Camp, Casey Coleman, Frankie De La Cruz and Lendy Castillo try to lock that down. Rafael Dolis is looking like he’ll make the bullpen alongside Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, James Russell and Wells.

“Three weeks ago there were guys you thought were maybe dead in the water and now they’re on the brink of maybe making the team,” Sveum said.

Meanwhile, the backup catcher position might be the toughest position. Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger have both impressed in Mesa.

“It’s going to be a really tough decision,” Sveum said. “They’re both having good springs and they’re both catching the ball well, throwing the ball well. Their work ethic, their enthusiasm – everything has been fantastic,” Sveum said.

The manager was really impressed with how Wellington played Tuesday. He hit a lead-off home run in the ninth inning and blocked a lot of sliders in the dirt in the last inning.

“These guys could play every day for a lot of teams,” Sveum said about his catchers. “These guys are well above average catchers.”

Worried about DeJesus?

New Cubs outfielder David DeJesus has struggled in camp, hitting just .167 in 17 games. Sveum isn’t exactly worried about his presumed leadoff hitter, but he did acknowledge the struggles.

“Obviously his numbers aren’t eye popping, by no means,” the manager said. “I think it’s just a case of a veteran guy coming into camp trying to do too much, being a little passive-aggressive instead of just knowing you’ve had a lot of success before. Just go out and do it and don’t worry about where you’re hitting in the order, leading off, taking pitches and that kind of thing. Sometimes that can get you into a lot of trouble.”

Sveum called DeJesus the “ultimate professional” though and said he’s been playing very well defensively in right field.

Today Vs Indians

Here’s today’s lineup against Indians starter Josh Tomlin:

1.       Tony Campana – CF
2.       Blake DeWitt – 2B
3.       Starlin Castro – SS
4.       Alfonso Soriano – LF
5.       Ian Stewart – 3B
6.       Geovany Soto – C
7.       Bryan LaHair – 1B
8.       Joe Mather – RF
9.       Jeff Samardzija – P

For more Cubs spring training coverage from Mesa, Ariz, click here. Find all of Adam Hoge’s spring training blogs here and follow him on Twitter (@AdamHogeCBS).