Donnie Murphy and George Kottaras will not be heading to Pittsburgh for opening day as both Cub players were released on Wednesday. Murphy was claimed on waivers by the Rangers and Kottaras was granted his unconditional release.
Kottaras getting cut comes as a surprise since he had a spot on the 40-man roster and was considered the back-up to Wellington Castillo. Kottaras was signed as a free agent in the off season after spending 2013 in the Royals organization, playing 46 games for Kansas City (.180/.349/.370). This spring for the Cubs, he appeared in 12 games, hitting .150 with a homer and two RBI.
Cubs manager Rick Renteria named John Baker the Cubs back-up to start the season and Eli Whiteside will be sent to AAA Iowa when camp is finished. Baker was another free-agent acquisition during the off-season after spending the past two years with the Padres. The six-year MLB veteran, who also spent time four seasons with Marlins, hit .292 this spring in 24 at-bats with three doubles.
With the acquisition of Emilio Bonifacio and the emergence of Mike Olt this spring, Murphy became expendable. He played in 14 games in Mesa, hitting .200/.273/.325 with a homer and two RBI. The Rangers need infield help with the injury to Jurickson Profar. Murphy was a home run hitting machine last year when recalled from Iowa as the eight-year veteran clubbed 11 homers in only 46 games for the North Siders.
In other moves made earlier, the Cubs released pitcher Chang-Yong Lim and optioned RHP Neil Ramirez to Iowa. They also sent OF Darnell McDonald to minor league camp and he's expected to start the year in AAA Iowa.