A League of Her Own

Monday Headlines

The gang welcomes Lee back home (Scott Strazzante, Tribune)

As witnessed by BBCT (which just keeps getting better), Derrek Lee lifted the Cubs to victory in spectacular fashion. Also noted in Len's audio play-by-play is that Big Z left due to injury:
Leading off, Zambrano bunted toward third base and stretched to beat the throw to first base. Piniella was in no mood to criticize what some would consider a hazardous move for a pitcher. "My gosh, what are we supposed to do?" he said. "He laid down a perfect bunt to start an inning. He hurts his hamstring. But what can you do? I don't know what else. "I thought it was a really good play. The third baseman was giving him a base hit and he just dropped it down. ... That was one of the reasons we scored four runs." Piniella and trainer Mark O'Neal visited with Zambrano at first base and he talked them into remaining in the game, thinking it was a cramp. But moments later he changed his mind, so fellow pitcher Rich Harden ran for him.

One topic of discussion on last night's podcast was "D-Lee: real or imaginary" or maybe it was "D-Lee: done or undone". Either way, let's hear it from the source:
"It's getting better," said Lee, who is batting .209. "I'd like to mix in some other hits with it. I'll take the home runs. Honestly, I don't worry about the power. I just really am concerned with having good, consistent at-bats. I think, after that, things take care of themselves. The home runs are nice the last two days, but I'd like to mix in some other good at-bats with it."

And Mike Fontenot, do you have anything to say?
''We want Rami back in the lineup,'' said Mike Fontenot, who has been playing third and was among the hitting stars with a solo home run in the fourth. ''It would be good to have all these guys in the lineup, especially when they're hitting behind you. It keeps a little fear in the opposing pitcher's eyes.'' ... ''I'm trying to keep up with [Ryan] Theriot,'' he said of the Cubs shortstop, who hit a grand slam Friday and a two-run homer Saturday. ''He's really stroking it. He always lets us know about it. But we're having fun with it. ''It's been good the last three games. We've been hitting the ball the last few days, kind of finding our way now.''

We've oft been told that when one door closes, another opens. With Z going down, it should be mildly comforting to know that Ramirez will be back in the lineup today. And it sounds like Lou has some lineup surprises up his sleeve:
With Aramis Ramirez expected back for Monday night's game against the Giants, the Cubs will have their Opening Day 3-4-5 hitters -- Derrek Lee, Milton Bradley and Ramirez -- in the lineup for the first time since April 12. Of course, things have changed since then and manager Lou Piniella now says, "I think we're going to change the combo a little." Piniella would not reveal his exact thinking but said he liked Kosuke Fukudome batting third behind Ryan Theriot. Most likely, Lee would bat fourth, Ramirez fifth and the switch-hitting Bradley, whose average is .116, sixth.

With the way Theriot and Fukudome are hitting I can't fault leaving them in the two and three spots, But I'd rather see Ramirez fourth, then Bradley and Lee. Maybe Lou's thinking about protecting Lee in the four spot with Ramirez behind him, but that's not really a spot where you want to be "protecting" someone with a better hitter behind him, is it? If Z can't go on Friday, who steps up? Fear not, it shan't be Spellcheck. It'll likely be Randy Wells:
Lou said he felt Z's start Friday is "in jeopardy." If the Cubs have to get another starter, it's likely they'd dip down to Class AAA Iowa. The leading candidate is likely righty-Randy Wells, wh is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. At the end of spring training, Lou figured Mitch Atkins for the "sixth starter's spot," but Atkins is off to a 1-2 start with a 6.99 ERA.

We'll finish today's headlines with a wacky statistical anomaly from Saturday:
The Cubs had one assist Saturday in their 6-1 win over Florida, which hadn't happened in a nine-inning Cubs game since Aug. 14, 2003, in a 7-1 win over Houston. The situation happened only twice in baseball last season, the last on Sept. 16, when the Astros had one assist against the Marlins.



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