AP Photos/Ashley Landis

“As a swingman or a starter, right now, it doesn’t matter. I want to make the roster,” Adbert Alzolay said.

MESA, Ariz. – Adbert Alzolay did everything the Cubs asked him to do this spring. Following a strong performance against the Dodgers to end his spring, what happens next is out of his control.

Alzolay has been competing with right-hander Alec Mills for a spot in the Cubs rotation. Under normal circumstances, the 26-year-old starter would be a no brainer to make the Opening Day roster, but he’s no ordinary case.

“To be honest, like I said earlier in camp, my main thing is to make the roster,” Alzolay said. “As a swingman or a starter, right now, it doesn’t matter. I want to make the roster. But long term, yes. I feel that I’m ready to start every five days.”

On Tuesday, the Cubs were informed that they would have a fourth minor-league option after an arbiter ruled in the team’s favor. It allows the Cubs to option and recall Alzolay from the team’s alternate site in South Bend without having to place him on waivers.

The Cubs will have an innings limit on Alzolay this season as they watch his workload after the unusual 2020 season. The 120 innings Alzolay threw in 2018 are his most in a season as a professional. It’s never been a matter of if Alzolay will pitch in Chicago this season, but when?

The organization is not only high on Alzolay’s ability, but makeup. While he’ll pitch important innings in Chicago in 2021, ensuring he’s healthy throughout the season remains their priority.

“I remember sending him down last year and he was like, ‘What are you talking about?,’” manager David Ross said. “He believes in himself, which you want every player to believe in themselves and that’s a great thing. . . . I think that speaks to how these competitors’ mindset work. They feel like they belong. He’s had success and has built on that and is growing. So I’m glad he believes he belongs on the team. I believe he’s going to be a really good major-league pitcher.

“He’s kind of trending in the right direction, in my opinion. That was a real glimpse into what I thought he looked like last year.”

Bryant likely not in Cubs’ OF mix

Kris Bryant’s versatility provides Ross with different options as he tries to make the lineup, Bryant likely won’t move around too much. The Cubs’ outfield has several moving parts and with the addition of Jake Marisnick and potentially Cameron Maybin, there are many outfield at-bats to go around. But Ross will keep that option open during the season.

“I think I’ve seen him get work out there twice [this spring],” Ross said. “I believe I asked [outfield coach Willie Harris] to grab him twice out there. I haven’t put him in a game there. I’ve been really wanting to get Joc and Happ and Marisnick and that group feeling good about one another communicating [in the outfield]. I won’t say I’m not going to move Kria out there, but right now, it hasn’t been on my radar a whole lot. I know he can play out there and I know he doesn’t need a lot of work.”


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