Dusty: No Time for "Bull"

Dusty Baker

Since Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou have departed and Derrek Lee is injured, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has been counted on to be the top offensive threat in the Cubs lineup.

But it hasn't worked that way. After Friday's action, Ramirez was hitting .213 with six homers and 18 RBI.

Cubs manager Dusty Baker is not sure if Ramirez will be able to step up and be the main hitter for the Cubs but he said it could still be developed.

"You are what you are," Baker said. "D. Lee was in the same position in Florida. D. Lee wasn't the guy until he came here. D. Lee was more of a helper than a hitter until Sammy was gone and Mo (Alou) was gone and then he evolved into a carrier. Everybody wants this guy to be a No. 1 guy, but maybe you need a great supporting actor, too.

"This is the same spot D. Lee was at this age."

The manager believes that when Lee returns, Ramirez can still be a dangerous force.

"When he was batting behind D. Lee, I'll bet you he got better pitches to hit," Baker said. "(Current third hitter Todd) Walker is not going to steal so they can throw him (Ramirez) a bunch of stuff. But D. Lee is going to run and if you threw a bunch of stuff, D. Lee would steal a base."

REPLAY: The Cubs managed just two hits and fell 6-1 to the White Sox on Friday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field. Juan Pierre's first-inning infield hit and Ronny Cedeno's single to left were all the Cubs could muster off Sox starter Mark Buehrle.

Greg Maddux fell to 5-3 after giving up six runs on nine hits with five walks in 5 2-3 innings. One of the few bright spots on the day was that struggling reliever Glendon Rusch threw 2 1-3 innings of scoreless ball.

NOTES, QUOTES

--C Michael Barrett was used as the Cubs' designated hitter in Friday's game against the White Sox because he's logged a heavy workload of late and Baker preferred the defense of backup catcher Henry Blanco against an aggressive baserunning team such as the White Sox.

--3B Aramis Ramirez returned to the starting lineup on Friday after missing Thursday's game with a sore lower back. Ramirez gave the back a test when he made a leaping catch of a line drive in the first inning against the White Sox.

--RHP Kerry Wood told Baker that he felt like he was hit by a truck when he woke up on Friday morning. But Wood added that it was just normal soreness after making his first major league start of the season on Thursday after recovering from Aug. 31 shoulder surgery. He said his shoulder felt no pain and should be fine to make a start Tuesday against Florida.

--RHP Mark Prior made 38 pitches in a Rookie League game on Friday in extended spring training. Prior, who is recovering from right shoulder discomfort, will likely need to pitch in another Rookie League game on Wednesday before the Cubs decide if he is ready for a minor league rehab assignment.

--CF Miguel Negron, a former first-round pick by Toronto, was claimed on waivers by the Cubs. He will report to Double-A West Tenn.

BY THE NUMBERS: 19 -- Victories over American League teams for pitcher Greg Maddux in the first nine years of interleague play. It's the most interleague wins by any pitcher.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm hearing that if they sweep us I'm fired and it's all bull(deleted). I don't have time for bull(deleted). I'm too old for bull(deleted)." --Baker on speculation of his job status if the Cubs were swept by the White Sox.

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