3/16 What to watch for …
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are both expected back in the Cubs’ lineup on Thursday when they return from an off day. Lee has played five games but has been sidelined with a bruised left foot. Ramirez has appeared in seven games so far, and was rested after feeling some soreness in his right tricep.
Lou Piniella hinted there will be some experimenting when the team returns from Wednesday’s off day. Kevin Millar, who left Monday’s game because of a mild thigh strain, will get some outfield work. So will Jeff Baker, who can expect some tutoring from outfield coach Mike Quade. Piniella wants to see how versatile his bench players can be.
Fontenot is key. If he can handle shortstop, then the Cubs feel they have enough support on the bench to carry someone like Millar or Chad Tracy.
“We want [Fontenot] to be able to finish a game out [at shortstop],” Piniella said. “If there’s a double switch we have to do for any reason — I don’t see us doing it too often with our shortstop — but if there’s a little injury or something, we want to make sure [Fontenot] can do the job. We’ll find that out in short order.”
Tuesday’s game against the Rangers was played in a brisk 2 hours 8 minutes.
“It’s a good way to enjoy St. Paddy’s Day tomorrow,” Piniella said.
— Carrie Muskat