Cubs notes: Junior Lake recalled, Brian Schlitter sent down

CHICAGO -- The Cubs recalled infielder/outfielder Junior Lake on Monday afternoon while sending pitcher Brian Schlitter to Triple-A Iowa, the team announced before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Lake, 25, hit .211 last year as a part-time starter before being demoted to the minors mid-season. Manager Joe Maddon says his versatility combined with his spring training earned him a promotion.

"Had a great spring training," Maddon said. "Primarily an outfielder but we're not afraid to use him in the infield. He'll take his ground balls there and we'll utilize him wherever, just like we do with everyone else."

The move returns the Cubs to a more traditional roster of 12 pitchers and 13 position players. Between carrying three catchers and just 12 position players for the last little while they've been nearly caught with guys playing way out of position. Lake's addition adds an outfielder and an infielder to the mix. He came up playing shortstop and third base before moving to the outfield in 2013.

"We got the pitching back in order a little bit," Maddon said of his bullpen due to Saturday's rainout in Cincinnati. "As of today, we feel ok with it (12 pitchers)."

Maddon thinks the Cubs might be getting a more patient hitter in Lake this time around. He struck out 110 times with just 14 walks last season.

"He was patient (this) spring," Maddon said.

Lake hit .289 with Iowa and .319 in spring training before being called up. Schlitter appeared in seven games, compiling a 9.53 ERA while becoming a target of fan frustration after several meltdowns which led to some blown leads. He gave up 10 hits and two walks in just 5.2 innings pitched.

Javier Baez update: Baez is at extended spring training in Arizona working his way back into game shape. When he's ready -- Theo Epstein says that should be within days -- he'll return to Triple-A Iowa to begin his season after taking a leave of absence due to the death of his sister.

Epstein was asked what would happen if Baez earned a promotion back to the big leagues.

"We have a lot of guys with a lot of versatility," he said. "Given that, there is ability for all our core guys to fit on the field at the same time, if we get to the point where they're all up here together. That's thinking really far into the future."

Epstein realizes it's going to take Baez a lot of time getting back into a groove considering he was sent to the minors to work on his swing but hasn't played a game there yet. As always in scenarios like these, things usually play themselves out, but if the Cubs have too many healthy and productive players -- and too few positions -- that's when some tough decisions will have to be made. But the Cubs are a long way from that "problem."

"That's thinking too far ahead," Epstein said.

Grimm/Ramirez: Relievers Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez continue to work in Arizona as they rehab from inflammation in their throwing arms.

"I know he (Grimm) had been doing better," Maddon said. "I've heard nothing bad, just progression with him."

Maddon didn't have a specific update on Ramirez but he's behind Grimm as far as a timetable to return is concerned.