Baker Gets Vote of Confidence from Hendry

Baker: 231-204 regular season record with Cubs

As the Cubs continue to underachieve, speculation on manager Dusty Baker's job security continues to heat up.

Some reports indicate his days are numbered.

Others say he wants to get out of town. Yet others have him pegged for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona, Oakland or Washington.

Baker is in the third year of a four-year, $14 million deal, and he insists he has always honored his contracts and will honor this one.

And his boss, general manager Jim Hendry, doesn't plan on firing the skipper anytime soon.

"Nothing can be further from the truth that he would be removed from his position by me," Hendry said. "I hired Dusty in my first year and I felt strongly that we had the right guy. And I'm still confident we have the right guy. He's certainly in good standing with me. I completely believe him when he tells me there's absolutely nothing to the Dodgers story that went out. In fact, I walked into his office and he was in the process of trying to call Jim Tracy. And he wasn't happy about the rumors.

"I think it's unfair to the club and to him that these things are being kind of run rampant with. We certainly made no overtures that we want him out. We have a very up-front and honest relationship. We're not playing as well as we all would have hoped, but that's certainly not a reflection on his standing with me."

Hendry, however, is not ready to talk about Baker's future beyond 2006. It's possible Baker will be offered an extension, but Hendry is not ready to make that decision, yet.

"We'll talk about that at the end of the season," Hendry said. "That's for he and I to go over at the end of the year. It's a four-year deal, and it's really not the time to be discussing it."

NOTES, QUOTES

--CF Jerry Hairston Jr. went on the disabled list but the team did not bring up demoted Corey Patterson from Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs will use Jose Macias and Jeromy Burnitz for the time being.

Patterson was sent down on July 7 to work on his swing, and he was hitting .234 through 20 games with three homers and eight RBIs.

"I don't want him not coming up to be deemed as a negative," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "The intent in sending him out was that he needed to make some changes. There have been some changes made to his approach and where his hands are and there is a little more flex in his posture -- maybe not so straight up and down. He's going through the process now where he is working hard on the changes and we think he's making progress."

--LHP Mike Remlinger was designated for assignment on Friday after posting an 0-3 mark with a 4.91 ERA. Remlinger was in the final year of a three-year, $10.65 million deal. He said he hoped to land on another roster.

--SS Nomar Garciaparra came off the disabled list on Friday, three and a half months after injuring his groin. He batted fifth in the lineup and went 0-for-4. He will likely get Saturday afternoon off and start again Sunday night.

--IF/OF Jerry Hairston Jr. was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a slight tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his left elbow. He will rest a few days before going back to baseball activities. Since it is not his throwing elbow, he may not require surgery.

--RHP Sergio Mitre was demoted to Triple-A Iowa. He pitched mainly out of the bullpen for the parent squad this year, but he could go back to starting at Iowa.

--RHP Kerry Wood, who has experienced shoulder problems all season, was activated from the disabled list on Friday. Wood will work out of the bullpen for the first time in his major league career and possibly have offseason surgery to clean out the shoulder. He pitched a scoreless inning Friday night against the New York Mets and walked one batter.

--RHP Mark Prior gave up six runs, including three home runs, in 4 1/3 innings Thursday. It's the third time this season the usually reliable Prior failed to go five, although his 3 1/3-inning stint against Colorado was cut short because of an injury rather than ineffectiveness.

--RHP Jerome Williams pitched his shortest game since joining the Cubs starting rotation when he lasted just four innings and gave up three runs against Philadelphia on Wednesday night. He left the game trailing 3-1 but his teammates rallied to tie the game after he left and did not earn a decision.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Home runs the Cubs hit in a three-game series Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. It's only the second time in the two-year history of the homer-friendly park that an opponent failed to homer.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's been a long journey, but it's been a great one. I'm happy and fortunate the man upstairs let me get back out there and play the game I love." -- RHP Scott Williamson, who returned to the mound on Friday after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery last October.

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