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Trammell: Fontenot capable fill-in at short
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/26/2010 12:01 AM

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TUCSON, Ariz. - Cubs manager Lou Piniella didn't make the trip to Thursday's game. He stayed back in Mesa to work with players at HoHoKam Park and to rest a sore back.

Bench coach Alan Trammell managed the Cubs' 7-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. The former standout shortstop of the Detroit Tigers weighed in on a couple of shortstop issues for the Cubs.

First, he expressed confidence that second baseman Mike Fontenot could handle a backup role at short.

"I'm confident to say that he could do it," Trammell said. "We've played him a few games there, and I'm glad we got him in just recently back-to-back games at short because so often in spring training, you can play a game and get taken out in the middle of the game and then not play there for while. Then you go back out there, and my point is, you don't get any action. When you play him there two games in a row, at whatever position, you usually get tested."

Trammell also talked about phenom Starlin Castro, who turned 20 years old this week. The Cubs recently sent Castro to minor-league camp, but there's a good chance he could make his major-league debut this season.

"There was no question at this point that Starlin, as much as he probably thought he was ready to play, as he should feel that way, was not ready," Trammell said. "I just think that there are all parts of his game that he needs to get a little bit better at. He just turned 20 years old, and that's pretty understandable. Again, a very good-looking ballplayer. He's got a great future, a bright future, but he needs to go down there and get regular at-bats and get regular playing time."

Stating his case: Lefty Tom Gorzelanny enjoyed his longest outing of the spring, working 6 innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball against the Diamondbacks. He threw 72 pitches, 42 strikes as his record improved to 1-1 with a 3.07 ERA.

Gorzelanny is vying for one of two spots in the rotation. His fellow lefty, Sean Marshall, is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA. Gorzelanny could win the spot if the Cubs like Marshall's versatility as a starter and reliever.

"I would much rather be in the rotation than the pen, but wherever they need me is where I'll be happiest, and I'll do my best," Gorzelanny said. "If I get to be in the rotation, I'm going to run with it, try to claim that spot and keep it."

Injury updates: Outfielder Xavier Nady, who was hit by a pitch near his right hand Wednesday in a minor-league game, had an X-ray that turned out to be negative, the Cubs said.

First baseman Derrek Lee injured his lower back Wednesday as a clubhouse chair collapsed when he was sitting in it. Lee is expected to play today at home against Oakland.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez (triceps soreness) also is expected to play today. Ramirez homered in a minor-league game Wednesday. Ramirez played catch back at HoHoKam on Thursday.

Reliever Jeff Gray, who strained his groin at the beginning of spring training, made his Cactus League debut Wednesday but is not likely to open the season with the Cubs.

"He's got a nice arm," Lou Piniella said. "But if you're rushing to get him ready, you're looking at something (bad) that could really happen. But we'll see. ... But I like what I see. But if you get him on a fast track, then you've got a little problem."