As Summer Drags On, Cubs Keep Fading

The Cubs are losing. They're beaten up, short-handed and very young in their bullpen. Interim manager Alan Trammell wants to make sure they're not broken, too.

Trammell held a brief team meeting before Monday night's 11-inning, 4-3 loss to the Giants. His main focus was to let the Cubs players know that manager Lou Piniella would be rejoining them as soon as possible. Piniella went home to Tampa after Sunday's game in Chicago to be with his ailing mother.

It's expected Piniella will be back sometime on this road trip, which consists of four games in San Francisco and three at St. Louis.

"I just want to make sure they were aware (Piniella) was going to be gone a minimum of the four (games)," Trammell told reporters beforehand. "There's every intent he'll be back on Friday, but that's not a guarantee.

"He's going to take care of his mother, make sure everything is OK before he comes back. They were aware of him being gone, but I don't know if they knew how long."

The Cubs are 47-65 and fading fast. Both Piniella and Trammell have urged their players to exude professionalism and to play hard no matter what the standings say. They said they are satisfied with the team's effort despite the record.

Trammell filled in for Piniella for three games recently as Piniella attended the funeral of his uncle.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Right-hander Carlos Silva underwent a successful cardiac ablation Monday at a Chicago hospital, the Cubs said. He had a procedure known as radio frequency catheter ablation to prevent a recurrence of a rapid heartbeat that put him out of his Aug. 1 start at Colorado in the first inning.

The Cubs said Silva was discharged from the hospital Monday and that he may begin light activity this week and a throwing program by next week.

"Trainer Mark O'Neal said he did very well," said Trammell. "It's a wonderful procedure. He should be back doing something later in the week, and we'll see where it leads."

--First baseman Derrek Lee missed the game to be with his ailing grandfather in nearby Sacramento. Trammell said the Cubs may have a decision to make about putting Lee on the bereavement list. The Cubs could recall 1B Micah Hoffpauir from Class AAA Iowa. Hoffpauir, who has big-league experience with the Cubs, entered Monday with 20 homers and 87 RBIs. Xavier Nady played first base Monday, getting two hits.

--Catcher Geovany Soto was a late lineup scratch. He has been bothered by a mild ligament sprain in his right shoulder. He was in Monday's original lineup, but the shoulder was still bothering him. Koyie Hill started behind the plate for a third straight game.

--The Cubs recalled right-hander Marcos Mateo from Iowa and optioned right-hander Mitch Atkins to Iowa. Mateo took the loss in his major league debut, giving up Pat Burrell's sacrifice fly in the 11th inning. Mateo became the 11th rookie to pitch for the Cubs this year.

--Right fielder Tyler Colvin was back in the starting lineup and in the leadoff spot after two days off to clear his head and work on his strike-zone discipline. Colvin was 2-for-18 on the recent homestand, and he's in the leadoff spot by default -- the Cubs have no legitimate leadoff hitter (as usual). He went to the plate six times against the Giants, getting an RBI single and reaching once on catcher's interference.

--Carlos Zambrano made his first start since June 25, and it was so-so. He worked five innings, giving up four hits and two runs. But he walked seven and struck out three. Zambrano was in and out of the strike zone all night. On the bright side, he threw 95 pitches, easily exceeding the 75-80 pitch limit the Cubs had talked about before the start. The cool weather in San Francisco helped contribute to the longer outing.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Exactly one-half of the Cubs' pitching staff is made up of rookies: Atkins, Justin Berg, Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond and James Russell.

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