Murton pleased with return from appendectomy

Murton pleased with return from appendectomy

MESA, Ariz. -- Matt Murton finally got in a game on Tuesday. The Cubs outfielder, who had been sidelined since he had his appendix removed on March 2, got four at-bats against Jon Lester in a simulated game.

Murton singled and doubled, and the next step is to get in a Cactus League game. A non-roster invitee in camp, Murton is hoping to return to the big leagues after playing six seasons in Japan.

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"I feel, from an offensive standpoint, going through my swing is not an issue at this point," Murton said. "I've been ramping it up in the cages. I've been on the field."

There is still some soreness, but Murton said he usually feels better the day after a workout.

"Today was another step in the right direction," he said.

It had to feel good to hit a double off Lester.

"He's a tremendous pitcher," Murton said of the lefty. "It's fun to compete with guys like that. He not only has good stuff, but he locates the ball well. I got to a count where he was trying to get the ball over the plate, and he'll tell you he left the ball on the plate more than he wanted to."

Worth noting

• The Cubs open the regular season with two games in Anaheim against the American League's Angels, and manager Joe Maddon said the club has several options for the designated-hitter role, including Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler and even Tommy La Stella.

"There's so many different ways to maneuver that," Maddon said.

Maddon is depending on the sabermetrics guys in the front office to come up with the best options. For example, if the Cubs are facing a tough left-hander, Schwarber might sit. Or, Ben Zobrist could be the DH just to give him a day off on defense.

• Cubs ace Jake Arrieta's next outing will be in a Minor League game on Saturday, rather than appearing in the Cactus League game against the Indians in Goodyear. The Cubs want the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner to have at least one outing in a controlled setting. No. 7 prospect Pierce Johnson is expected to start against Cleveland.

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