Rosscup, Schlitter and Lake optioned to Triple-A

Maddon cites depth in sending trio to Minors

Rosscup, Schlitter and Lake optioned to Triple-A

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs optioned left-handed pitcher Zac Rosscup, right-handed pitcher Brian Schlitter and outfielder Junior Lake to Triple-A Iowa to reduce the spring roster to 32, and manager Joe Maddon said he expects to finalize the list on Friday.

"All three of them performed at a level presently and in the past that would put them on a Major League team right now," Maddon said. "Right now, there's no room at the inn, which is a good thing for us."

The move leaves six outfielders in camp: Chris Coghlan, Chris Denorfia, Dexter Fowler, Jorge Soler, Ryan Sweeney and Matt Szczur. Coghlan was scratched from Wednesday's game with a stiff neck, and was listed as day to day. Denorfia has been battling a sore left hamstring, and ran the bases on Wednesday. However, he has not played in a game since March 17.

Jonathan Herrera, a utility player, also is in camp. The Cubs' backup infielder list is limited to Arismendy Alcantara and Tommy La Stella.

"It'd be nice to have [another backup infielder]," Maddon said. "You don't absolutely have to have it, but you'd like to have it. The fact [Alcantara] is so versatile makes a big difference. It comes down to pinch-hitting, who you're going to hit for, and then you figure out the need for the greatest depth."

After an off-day on Thursday, the Cubs will finish the spring schedule with two exhibition games Friday and Saturday against the D-backs at Chase Field.

Lake had a much improved spring, batting .302 in 21 games with five stolen bases. He benefitted from some guidance from Robinson Cano this offseason. The two were teammates briefly on Estrellas in the Dominican Republic, and Cano stressed to Lake the need to have a good approach at the plate, and focus on hitting the ball to center.

Credit Cubs Minor League coach Desi Wilson, too, for Lake's improved play. Wilson was on the Estrellas staff, and talked to Lake every day.

"He told me, 'I don't care if you get a hit, I want to know what your plan is at the plate,'" Lake said.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.