3/25 Lee, Ramirez, Nady & more
Both Lou Piniella and Derrek Lee were nursing sore backs on Thursday. Piniella skipped the trip to Tucson. Lee was injured in Surprise on Wednesday. He was apparently eating in the clubhouse and the chair he was sitting in collapsed. Lee was slow running to first on a play and was pulled after three innings. The first baseman was expected back in the Cubs’ lineup on Friday.
* Third baseman Aramis Ramirez should be back Friday as well. He was able to play catch on Thursday at HoHoKam and was tentatively scheduled to start at third Friday when the Cubs play host to the Athletics. He got some at-bats in a Minor League game Wednesday.
* Xavier Nady started in right field in a Minor League game Wednesday but never had a ball hit to him. He was hit on the right hand by a pitch and had X-rays, but they were negative. Expect to see Nady in a Cactus League game soon.
“He didn’t get any balls hit his way but just the preparation, getting set and running out, it’s good for him,” Piniella said. “It’s part of the regimen of being an outfielder.”
The Cubs have one more game in an American League park this spring and Piniella also doesn’t want to use the designated hitter at HoHoKam so his pitchers can get used to hitting in a game and bunting. That also means Nady will have to play the outfield to get at-bats.
* Jeff Gray is unlikely to make the Opening Day roster. The right-hander been slowed because of a strained groin.
“He’s got a nice arm,” Piniella said. “But if you’re rushing to get him ready, you’re looking at something (bad) that could really happen. But we’ll see. We’re going to sit down with [athletic trainer Mark O’Neal] and [pitching coach Larry Rothschild] and see. But I like what I see. But if you get him on a fast track, then you’ve got a little problem.”
* Expect some roster moves on Friday. The Cubs will get down to either 12 or 13 pitchers, and 16 or 17 position players.
* Chad Tracy did as ordered on Wednesday, hitting two doubles against the Rangers.
“I said I wanted to see him smack it, and he hit a couple balls well, in the right-centerfield gap and the left-center field gap,” Piniella said. “That last spot, it’s not an easy decision. We’ve got a lot of things to consider. We’re not set one way or another. Things will go on for a little bit. And [Micah] Hoffpauir is swinging the bat a little better here at the end of camp.”
The Cubs are trying to decide whether to keep Tracy, Hoffpauir, Kevin Millar, Andres Blanco, or Bobby Scales.
– Carrie Muskat