Cubs' Russell open to any and all ideas

MILWAUKEE -- Being trusted to pitch in the late innings is an honor for left-handed reliever James Russell, but it doesn’t mean that the new role has made him forget about his dream.

Russell maintained Friday that he would still like to be a starting pitcher one day, but won’t push the issue with the coaching staff or front office.

“I’m still not over the whole starting thing quite yet, I don’t think,” Russell said. “It’s really pretty much up to them. Whatever they want me to do is what I want to do. But just, in the back of my mind, I think I can succeed at starting and do well and help our team out starting. If they think otherwise then that’s perfectly fine with me.”

Russell has watched with pride, respect and perhaps a tiny bit of jealousy at how Jeff Samardzija has made the transition from bullpen to starting rotation. But he swears that other than perhaps standing a little taller in meetings when the rotation is mentioned, he won’t openly appeal for a chance.

“I’ll let them decide,” Russell said. “I’m not going to say anything. Just keep my mouth shut and go about my business in the bullpen and whatever they want to do in the offseason or next year, whether it’s me staying in the bullpen or trying out for a rotation job then so be it.”

He certainly doesn’t have any complaints about his current duties. He hoped to be able to pick up some of the slack in the late innings after the departure of Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds and he has been worthy of that.

And now with Carlos Marmol out at closer he could even pick up some ninth-inning action, but Rafael Dolis has done the closing over the last week.

“It shows they have confidence in me,” he said. “That’s what you want. You want to be that guy that everybody wants in there and the guy they count on late in the game. It’s a big confidence booster and makes you feel good inside, too.”

Just getting the chance to start one day would also give him that good feeling inside. He would even be willing to follow the Samardzija program and arrive to Arizona three months ahead of spring training.

“If that’s what it takes then I’ll do it,” Russell said.