Rusch will compete for fifth starting spot

CHICAGO -- Glendon Rusch agreed to a two-year, $4 million contract with the Chicago Cubs on Saturday after becoming a key spot starter last season following a 1-12 record with Milwaukee in 2003.

Rusch will go to spring training as a potential fifth starter.
There is a player option for 2006 and the value of the contract
could increase to $6.4 million over the two years based on
incentives for games started.

Rusch can opt out of the contract after the first year -- presumably if the Cubs don't plan to use him as a starter after next season, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports. Rusch goes into spring training as the favorite to replace Matt Clement, who is a free agent, in the rotation.

"This is where he wants to be. These are the people he wants to be surrounded by," agent Tommy Tanzer said Saturday.

Rusch was a pivotal starter and reliever for the Cubs last
season. He went 6-2 with a career-low 3.47 ERA in 32 appearances,
16 from the bullpen and 16 as a fill-in starter, especially when
Kerry Wood was injured early in the season.

After signing with the Cubs as a free agent, Rusch was called up from Triple-A Iowa on April 30. He went 4-2 as a starter with a
3.50 ERA. He limited left-handed hitters to a .225 average. Rusch
also showed some power from the plate, leading all Cubs pitchers
with two home runs.

Rusch has pitched in the majors for Kansas City (1997-99), the Mets (1999-01) and Milwaukee (2002-03). He has a 48-78 career record with a 4.93 ERA in 225 games, including 183 starts.He was drafted in the 17th round by Kansas City in 1993.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.