(CBS) Facing a difficult decision between keeping infielder Tommy La Stella or outfielder Matt Szczur on the 25-man roster to open the season, the Cubs have decided to go with both.
Barring a last-minute injury or deal, La Stella and Szczur will both break camp with the Cubs as left-handed reliever Brian Duensing will open the season on the disabled list, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told reporters Wednesday. That means the Cubs are in line to start with 13 position players and 12 pitches when they face the Cardinals on Sunday night in St. Louis.
Szczur is out of options, so he would’ve been exposed to other teams had he been pegged to go to Triple-A Iowa. Szczur has hit .295 with an .831 OPS in 17 games this spring. Szczur will primarily serve as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner and defensive replacement with Kyle Schwarber set to be the primary left fielder, Jason Heyward manning right field and Albert Almora and Jon Jay platooning in center. Ben Zobrist may also see some time in the outfield to open up space for Javier Baez at second base.
La Stella has hit .270 with an .835 OPS in 13 Cactus League games.
Duensing has been dealing with a back issue for several weeks. He had a 4.66 ERA in 9 2/3 innings this spring. His absence leaves Mike Montgomery as the only left-hander in the bullpen to start the year.
Here are the players the Cubs will open the new season with barring a last-minute injury:
Carl Edwards Jr.
Tommy La Stella