April 2009

4/16 Lineup & notes

Aramis Ramirez was back at third base Thursday and Micah Hoffpauir was in the Cubs’ lineup, starting in right field and batting fourth. Here’s the order: LF Alfonso Soriano, CF Kosuke Fukudome, 1B Derrek Lee, RF Hoffpauir, 3B Aramis Ramirez, 2B Mike Fontenot, C Geovany Soto, SS Ryan Theriot, P Sean Marshall.

Lou Piniella joked that he did have a few choices as to where he could play Hoffpauir. “We’ve got left field, and we’ve got right field, and we’ve got short center,” Piniella said.

Ramirez said his back bothered him on Sunday, and he played through it. “It’s better today than it was two days ago,” he said.

Also, Milton Bradley did some running in the outfield to test his sore right leg. He said Thursday he had some soreness in his groin before Sunday’s game and tried to push it.

— Carrie Muskat

According to Elias …

… Rich Harden had a historic outing on Wednesday. The Cubs right-hander faced 17 batters and gave up five hits, walked four and struck out eight. That means every batter he faced either got a hit, a walk or a strikeout. According to Elias, no other pitcher over the past 80 years had faced as many batters in a Major League game with each batter getting a hit, a walk or a strikeout.

— Carrie Muskat

Sing along

Former Chicago Blackhawks star Denis Savard will lead the Wrigley Field crowd in the seventh inning stretch on Thursday, and not Tony Esposito. And Ron Santo will do the honors Sunday.

— Carrie Muskat

That Rule 5 kid and more

Young right-hander David Patton made his Wrigley debut Wednesday, and looked at ease. He gave up one hit and walked one while striking out three in two scoreless innings vs. the Rockies. “Everything felt good,” Patton said. “What I want to achieve here is be patient, be ready no matter what. If they call on me, I want to go out there and give it everything I have.”

* Derrek Lee is 5-for-7 in two games at Wrigley after going 2-for-24 in the first six games. Lee isn’t too giddy. “It’s a long season,” he said. “That’s why you try to stay on an even keel. It is nice to get some hits. You don’t like starting the season like that.”

* In the “don’t believe everything you read department,” the Cubs say third baseman Aramis Ramirez did not undergo an imaging test on his back on Monday, as reported on another website. Ramirez was expected back in the lineup Thursday.

— Carrie Muskat

No. 42

Micah Hoffpauir didn’t believe his wife when she told him that everyone on the Cubs would be wearing No. 42 Wednesday in honor of Jackie Robinson. But there it was, a No. 42 jersey in Hoffpauir’s locker, and everyone else’s locker. Lou Piniella and all the coaches wore No. 42 as well. Last year, more than 330 players and on-field staff chose to wear No. 42. On Wednesday, Jackie Robinson Day, every player in baseball did so in a fitting tribute.

“It’s about honoring him and educating people about what he’s done,” Derrek Lee said. “Now you can’t miss it. You’ll see everyone wearing 42 and if you don’t know, you’ll ask, ‘Why are they doing that?’ and someone will explain what’s going on.”

Said Joey Gathright: “If you’re black and you play this game, you should know about Jackie. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be playing.”

— Carrie Muskat

4/15 Lineup & injury update

Aramis Ramirez was in the first lineup posted in the Cubs clubhouse for Wednesday’s game against the Rockies but was then scratched. He needs another day because of his stiff back. “One more day won’t do any harm,” Lou Piniella said.

Milton Bradley’s status hasn’t changed, and the outfielder, out with a strained groin, could be back by the weekend.

Geovany Soto did get the go-ahead, and he was in the lineup and batting seventh. He’ll be wearing No. 42. Actually, all of the Cubs and Rockies will be wearing No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.

The Cubs’ lineup is: LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, RF Kosuke Fukudome, 1B Derrek Lee, 3B Mike Fontenot, CF Reed Johnson, C Soto, 2B Aaron Miles and P Rich Harden.

— Carrie Muskat

Looking ahead …

The pitching matchups for the Cubs’ series vs. the Cardinals will be Sean Marshall vs. Adam Wainwright on Thursday, Carlos Zambrano vs. Kyle Lohse on Friday, Ryan Dempster vs. Todd Wellemeyer on Saturday, and Ted Lilly vs. Chris Carpenter on Sunday. However, Carpenter had to come out of Tuesday’s game at Arizona with a left rib cage strain, and he’s doubtful for Sunday.

Hope everyone finished their income taxes. Happy Jackie Robinson Day.

— Carrie Muskat

4/13 Opening notes

There was a moment of silence before Monday’s Cubs-Rockies game in honor of Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas. Kalas died Monday prior to the Phillies game against the Nationals. WGN Radio’s Pat Hughes was saddened at Kalas’ passing.

“I just loved the guy,” Hughes said. “He was somebody I admired as a young man growing up trying to get into the business. I was struck by his voice and how clear and strong it was. Then I realized beyond that, he was really a great announcer. He knew what he was talking about.

“He could build the drama in a game,” Hughes said. “I loved his call of Mike Schmidt’s 500th home run. I loved hearing him do the voiceovers on NFL Films. It was a voice I never got tired of hearing. Everytime I heard it, it sounded fresh and vibrant and good.”

* Rick Sutcliffe threw out the ceremonial first pitch to his former catcher, Jody Davis, who is now a Minor League instructor for the Cubs.

* Milton Bradley, sidelined with a strained right groin, did not take part in the player introductions for the home opener.

— Carrie Muskat

Rain, rain, go away

The tarp is on the field at Wrigley, but there is hope that they’ll get Monday’s game in vs. the Rockies. This is Colorado’s only trip to Chicago. Lou Piniella was asked if he managed any differently strategy-wise because of the weather. He does have a small ball lineup.

“Strategically? I don’t know if my brain works too well in cold weather,” Piniella said.

— Carrie Muskat

4/13 Lineup & quick hits

Lou Piniella said he’s spent some time experimenting with lineups without Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez, and on Monday, he will test his first grouping. Bradley is sidelined with a strained right groin, injured Sunday, and Ramirez has a stiff back. Weather permitting Monday, it’ll be LF Alfonso Soriano, SS Ryan Theriot, RF Kosuke Fukudome, 1B Derrek Lee, 3B Mike Fontenot, CF Reed Johnson, 2B Aaron Miles, C Koyie Hill and P Ted Lilly.

* Geovany Soto was still expected back on Wednesday. He’s been out for nearly a week because of a sore right shoulder. He’s eager to get going. “I’m bored out of my mind,” Soto said.

* Lou Piniella said he didn’t expect Bradley to be sidelined for long. The outfielder pulled up while running the bases on Sunday, and had to be pulled from the game.

* Kerry Wood’s end locker was being used by the clubhouse attendants, and not a player.

* How will Piniella handle the cold weather Monday? “I’ll put on a bigger jacket,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat