Brett Anderson relishes competition for fifth spot in Cubs rotation

Brett Anderson is betting on himself to win the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation, as long as he stays healthy.Only 12 of Anderson's 127 major-league appearances have come in relief, so it could be a challenge for the Cubs to execute their "hybrid"...

Brett Anderson relishes competition for fifth spot in Cubs rotation

Brett Anderson is betting on himself to win the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation, as long as he stays healthy.

Only 12 of Anderson's 127 major-league appearances have come in relief, so it could be a challenge for the Cubs to execute their "hybrid" plan in which Anderson and fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery alternate in the fifth spot while pitching out of the bullpen when they're not starting.

"Barring health, it will work itself out," Anderson said Monday after pitching a scoreless first inning against the White Sox. "Whether it's (in) the bullpen or starting, it's always good to have competition. It drives you more. You can't have too much depth, coming from where I was last year with the Dodgers.

Photos from the game on Feb. 27, 2017, in Mesa, Ariz.

"If I'm healthy, everything else will work itself out and I'll take my chances."

Under the suggestion of pitching coach Chris Bosio, Anderson has alleviated pressure on his lower back by landing on the ball or toes of his right foot as he completes his windup.

Anderson was limited to four appearances in 2016 because of back surgery that requires extensive pregame maintenance. He showed promise Monday by inducing two groundouts and freezing Matt Davidson on a "comeback" fastball for a called third strike.

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged the Cubs must be careful handling Anderson, given his medical and starting history.

Photos as the Cubs practice at spring training in Mesa, Ariz.

All in the family: Pitcher Casey Kelly, a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2008 under Cubs executive Jason McLeod, signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs this winter.

"It's always good to have people that know you and are in your corner, but at the end of the day you have to earn it," Kelly said.

Kelly, 27, continues to make adjustments under Bosio's supervision after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in 2013 and struggling in the Braves organization last summer.

"I moved to the third-base side of the rubber," Kelly said. "And I think that's going to help me with deception, especially with the sinker to righties."

Caption Cubs' Brett Anderson on his first Cactus League start

Cubs pitcher Brett Anderson discusses his first Cactus League start, against the White Sox, on Feb. 27, 2017, in Mesa, Ariz. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Cubs pitcher Brett Anderson discusses his first Cactus League start, against the White Sox, on Feb. 27, 2017, in Mesa, Ariz. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Caption Cubs' Brett Anderson on his first Cactus League start

Cubs pitcher Brett Anderson discusses his first Cactus League start, against the White Sox, on Feb. 27, 2017, in Mesa, Ariz. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Cubs pitcher Brett Anderson discusses his first Cactus League start, against the White Sox, on Feb. 27, 2017, in Mesa, Ariz. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Caption A Cubs fan named Trudie

Trudie has been a Chicago Cubs fan for most of her life. On Feb. 27, 2017, Trudie purchased a few tickets for the 2017 season. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

Trudie has been a Chicago Cubs fan for most of her life. On Feb. 27, 2017, Trudie purchased a few tickets for the 2017 season. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

Caption Cubs pitcher Pierce Johnson on switching to the bullpen

Cubs pitcher Pierce Johnson discusses his new role in the bullpen on Feb. 27, 2017. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Cubs pitcher Pierce Johnson discusses his new role in the bullpen on Feb. 27, 2017. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Caption Joe Maddon on White Sox manager Rick Renteria

Cubs manager Joe Maddon discusses White Sox manager Rick Renteria as well as Cubs pitchers Brett Anderson and Caleb Smith on Feb. 27, 2017. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Cubs manager Joe Maddon discusses White Sox manager Rick Renteria as well as Cubs pitchers Brett Anderson and Caleb Smith on Feb. 27, 2017. (Mark Gonzales/Chicago Tribune)

Caption Cubs manager Joe Maddon on World Series Game 7 and spring training

Cubs manager Joe Maddon on World Series Game 7 and spring training.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon on World Series Game 7 and spring training.

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