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Hendry still on lookout for more starting pitching
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Sean Marshall was 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA last year in 34 games (7 starts).


Associated Press file

Jeff Samardzija could earn a crack at starting this season.


Associated Press file

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Published: 1/14/2009 4:35 PM

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While the interminable sale of the Cubs may or may not be reaching its conclusion, general manager Jim Hendry says he's still looking to improve the team's starting pitching.

No, a trade for San Diego's Jake Peavy isn't imminent. If that deal is ever going to get done, it won't be until the Cubs have new owners.

But that's not stopping Hendry from looking for a No. 5 starter to replace the recently traded Jason Marquis.

"We're still going to keep our eye open and see if we can do something before we get to camp," Hendry said Wednesday as the Cubs kicked off their annual winter caravan in Chicago. "How significant that is, we don't know. We feel good about the club. We feel real good about the position guys."

The in-house group of candidates for the fifth-starter's spot includes lefty Sean Marshall and righties Jeff Samardzija and Chad Gaudin, both of whom worked out of the bullpen last year.

But the more you listen to Hendry, the more you come away feeling he'd like to make one more deal, the Peavy situation notwithstanding.

"Knowing when we traded Marquis, we felt we were covered, no matter what," Hendry said. "But at the same time, I don't think you should ever get out of the business of trying to add more pitching.

"We're not going to add somebody just to add somebody. We feel good about the guys we have. Marshall's certainly earned a crack at it, although you'd love to have him in maybe a swing role. Gaudin had 33-34 starts two years ago in Oakland. I never count Samardzija out. (Angel) Guzman had a real good winter. Early on in the season, sometimes you can miss your fifth starter a few times. That being said, we'll continue to look."

Marshall would love to be the guy. He was 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA last year in 34 games, 7 starts. Marshall also played the good soldier, not complaining when he had to go to Class AAA Iowa for 7 starts.

"I know that our goal as a team is to win the World Series," he said. "Whatever I can do personally to help the team achieve that, fine. I'm happy to do that. I would like to start. I would prefer to start, but if I need to do another role, I'll do that, too.

"I've prepared my body this off-season to be a starter just like I have in previous off-season. I actually started a little earlier in my throwing so I can hopefully have that good start in spring training."

Hendry left talk of the lineup to manager Lou Piniella, who was absent from Wednesday's festivities. Piniella was home in Tampa nursing a viral infection, but the Cubs said he should be in Chicago Friday in time for the beginning of the annual fan convention.

While expressing confidence in his starting rotation and bullpen, Hendry also talked up the versatility of his lineup, to which switch-hitting outfielder Milton Bradley was added last week as a free agent. Bradley could hit fourth, between right-handed hitters Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

"He's definitely a middle-of-the-lineup guy," Hendry said of Bradley. That'll be up to Lou, how he and Gerald (hitting coach Perry) decide to do it at the end of camp. We feel good about the possibilities.

"Milton can hit in a lot of places, as you know. With (being) such a high-on-base-percentage guy and still with the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, it's a nice situation. I'm sure Derrek and Ramy are two of the happier guys that we acquired him."