Cubs claim De La Cruz

The race for openings in the Brewers’ bullpen lost a competitor Friday when the Cubs claimed right-hander Frankie De La Cruz, a hard-thrower who was having a tough time commanding the baseball this spring. De La Cruz faced 21 batters in three Cactus League outings, allowed hits to seven of them, walked three and hit two with pitches. He also threw two wild pitches and surrendered seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings, for am 18.90 ERA.

De La Cruz had a strong 2011 season, going 7-6 with a 3.88 ERA at Triple-A Nashville, mostly as a starter, before a promotion to Milwaukee. He posted a 2.77 ERA in 11 big-league relief appearances. His average fastball was 91.6 mph, still effective but slightly down from the 94 mph he’d thrown for the Tigers, Marlins and Padres from 2007-09.

The Brewers now have 39 players on the 40-man roster. They’ll need a couple of spots before Opening Day if non-roster invitees like Cesar Izturis and Brooks Conrad make the club.

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