An­der­son fig­ures to claim fifth spot

Chicago Sun-Times - - CUBSBEAT - BY GOR­DON WITTENMYER Staff Re­porter

MESA, Ariz. — Bar­ring a set­back in the next two weeks, count on Brett An­der­son open­ing the sea­son as the Cubs’ fifth starter, with Mike Mont­gomery in the bullpen in a long- re­lief/ spot- starter role.

Man­ager Joe Mad­don has re­ferred to the An­der­son- Mont­gomery sit­u­a­tion as less of a bat­tle for the fifth spot and more of a “hy­brid” plan that in­volves an oc­ca­sional sixth starter.

On Mon­day, Mad­don said he soon will have to an­nounce which of the two left- han­ders will join the ro­ta­tion. He also ac­knowl­edged the near im­pos­si­bil­ity that An­der­son would open the sea­son in the bullpen.

When healthy and at full strength, An­der­son never has been a re­liever in his pro­fes­sional ca­reer. And in­juries that re­quired nine stints on the dis­abled list since 2010 — in­clud­ing back surgery twice — have led to a reg­u­lar main­te­nance pro­gram that re­quires lengthy prep and warmup time be­fore pitch­ing.

“It’d be more dif­fi­cult, there’s no ques­tion,” Mad­don said. “I can’t deny that. You look at the makeup of the player, the pitch­ers them­selves, it’s pretty ob­vi­ous the one guy’s more suited to start and the other guy’s more of a hy­brid.

“We wanted to give it a fair look all camp, and we’ve been do­ing that. And we’re get­ting close to hav­ing to make that fi­nal de­ci­sion.”

Mont­gomery, who was ex­pected to get the first shot at the No. 5 spot un­til the Cubs signed An­der­son on Jan. 26, said he’s fine with what­ever is de­cided.

“I’ll just be ready for any­thing be­cause I ac­tu­ally like that role, which is start­ing, re­liever, what­ever” he said. “Try to em­brace that.”

| JOHN ANTONOFF/ FOR THE SUN- TIMES

Oft- in­jured Brett An­der­son ( above) re­quires a lengthy warmup, mak­ing it un­likely he’ll be in the bullpen. Mike Mont­gomery ( in­set) is ex­pected to be­gin the sea­son there.

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