Cubs News: Spring roster reduced to 53 players


The Chicago Cubs began chipping away at the spring roster, reducing it from 61 to 53 on Monday afternoon. Many of the first round of moves were expected, with no surprises thus far.

Infielder Christian Villanueva and catcher Rafael Lopez were optioned to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs are set on infielders–and the catcher position is fully stocked as well.

Non-roster invitees Corey Black, Pierce Johnson, Armando Rivero, Donn Roach, Hunter Cervenka and Logan Watkins were also assigned to minor league camp.

With 19 games left on the spring schedule, including today’s against the Padres, the Cubs will be looking to get “regulars” more at-bats and innings on the mound.

Watkins is a bit of a sad story, as he hoped to compete for a utility role, but ruptured his Achilles before camp even got going. The Cubs minor league player of the year in 2012 had spent time each of the last two seasons with the team.

The Cubs are high on Johnson and Rivera, and both pitched well in their short time in camp. But neither was realistically wasn’t expected to make the team. Johnson needs more seasoning, and for Rivera–the Cubs have more than enough power arms in the bullpen as it is.

Roach was picked up late, and was added to supply depth for the pitching staff. It’s a long season, and there really isn’t such a thing as too much pitching. Black came over from the Yankees in the Alfonso Soriano deal, and was highly regarded in their system, even though at the time he was only in Single-A ball.

The Cubs will look to make a second round of cuts soon as they work towards trimming the roster down to 25 before Opening Night, April 5 against the St. Louis Cardinals.