7/24 Quick hits

Lou Piniella asked one of the Japanese writers to help as interpreter so he could talk hitting with Kyosuke Sasaki on Friday. Sasaki has been with the Cubs since Monday to work with his star pupil, Kosuke Fukudome, and will go back to Japan on Sunday. One thing PIniella noticed during batting practice and games is that Fukudome is using his legs better in his swing. Piniella thanked Sasaki — and then suggested he should stick around to work with a couple other players as well.

* Geovany Soto’s rehab is progressing in Mesa, Ariz., but PIniella wasn’t sure if the catcher had started swinging a bat. Soto is sidelined with a left oblique strain. “We talked about bringing up another catcher here,” Piniella said. “Where it hurts us is the fact that [Jake] Fox has done well pinch-hitting and it’s hard to utilize him in that role. When I used him the other day, I told [pitcher Randy] Wells he’s my backup catcher.

“We know we’re in a precarious situation,” Piniella said. “We’re trying to ride this thing out. We don’t want to send out the 12th pitcher and at the same time our bench, we’re comfortable with the way it’s set up now. If we need somebody, we’ll have them here the following day.”

Wells was pitching Friday.

“How about if Wells pitches the first seven and catches the last two? That would give ESPN and the rest of the networks something to talk about,” Piniella said.

* The trading deadline is approaching. In Washington, Piniella hinted he was still looking for a left-handed hitter.

“Our GM [Jim Hendry] does as good a job as any GM in baseball in addressing a team’s needs,” Piniella said. “I’m fully comfortable that if there’s anything out there that’s available and can help us, Jim will find him and that’s all he can do.”

– Carrie Muskat

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