7/16 Lineup & quick hits
Reed Johnson is playing center and leading off for the Cubs Thursday against the Nationals and lefty John Lannan. It’ll be CF Johnson, SS Theriot, RF Bradley, 1B Lee, 3B Ramirez, LF Soriano, 2B Baker, C Hill, P Harden.
* The Cubs did not find another backup catcher over the All-Star break, and hope to get by with Koyie Hill and Jake Fox. Apparently, Geovany Soto (left oblique strain) may not be sidelined one month.
“We’re exploring other things but we’re also encouraged that Geovany Soto — we’re hopeful — he’s feeling really good the last few days,” Cubs assistant GM Randy Bush said. “We’re hopeful he’s turned the corner and this could be a short term thing. We don’t want to put any time frame on it. We’re encouraged where he’s at.”
Fox was behind the plate at the end of Sunday’s second game of a day-night doubleheader.
“Rather than rush into something, we thought we’d get more information on Geo and see how it goes with Koyie and Jake and adjust if we need to,” Bush said.
* Ted Lilly was back with the team after his All-Star experience.
“It was a special, special time,” Lilly said. “It would’ve been great to break the tradition of the American League winning, but it was a great experience.”
The lefty was rudely greeted by the St. Louis crowd.
“I’ll take the booing,” Lilly said.
Lilly, Jason Marquis and Zach Duke were the only NL pitchers who did not get in the game.
* Ryan Dempster (broken right toe) has been throwing from flat ground and says he’s making progress. There’s no pain, and the inflammation is almost gone. X-rays on Wednesday showed nothing was out of place, which is a good sign.
“I don’t want to rush anything or come to any conclusions and say I’ll be back sooner than I thought, but let’s just say everything feels really, really good,” Dempster said.
* WGN broadcaster Ron Santo is not on this trip. He’s home recuperating from a kidney infection, and was expected back in the booth when the team returns to Wrigley Field.
— Carrie Muskat