Desperate Cubs Hope Howry Helps 'Pen

Bob Howry (GETTY)

Desperate for any kind of bullpen help, the Cubs signed veteran Bob Howry to a contract for the rest of the season after Howry recently was released by the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Cubs must pay Howry only a prorated share of the major league minimum salary.

Howry, 36, pitched for the Cubs from 2006-08. He had his ups and downs on the field, but he made a positive impression on the organization, which feels he can help in the sixth and seventh innings as well as help mentor some of the team's young relievers.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I could help," Howry said upon joining the team in Arlington, Texas, for the start of an interleague series against the Rangers. "It's not a contract situation, a thing that you're doing to make a paycheck. If I didn't think I could still pitch, I wouldn't have come back."

Howry got off to a bad start in Arizona, going 1-0 with a 10.67 ERA in 14 games. In 14 1/3 innings pitched, Howry gave up six home runs after surrendering only five all last year with the Giants.

The Cubs have had trouble getting the ball from their starters to late man Sean Marshall and closer Carlos Marmol. They opened the season with a young bullpen, and they feel Howry not only has something left in the tank, but that he can provide leadership as well.

Lefty John Grabow, who signed to a two-year, $7.5 million contract extension over the winter, has been a major flop with a record of 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA and 10 walks in 16 innings.

The Cubs plan to use Howry in the sixth and seventh innings to begin with, and if things go well, he could see action in the later innings.

RANGERS 2, CUBS 1: Ted Lilly worked 6 2/3 strong innings, but the offense failed again, stranding nine. Lilly gave up both runs in the fourth, on RBI doubles to Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz. The only Cubs run scored in the second, on a double-play grounder by Geovany Soto.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Justin Berg was optioned to Class AAA Iowa to make room for Howry. Berg, who made a good impression late last year, was 0-0 with a 6.43 ERA in 14 games this season. He walked 10 in 14 innings.

"It's a good chance for Berg to get back to where he was last year, which was pretty good," said GM Jim Hendry.

--Aramis Ramirez did not start for a second straight game. He has been bothered for about 10 days by a sore left thumb. The injury is a bruise between the thumb and index finger. Ramirez is day-to-day.

"It's been like that for a while," said Ramirez, who is batting .166. "I just haven't been consistent."

--Lilly (1-4) turned in the Cubs' 28th quality start, but the team is just 14-14 in those games. Lilly threw 111 pitches and settled down after throwing 34 pitches in the first inning. The 111 pitches represented a season high and came on the heels of a 109-pitch effort this past Sunday for Lilly, who has come back from shoulder surgery.

"I need to pitch better," Lilly told reporters. "I will say we're capable of hitting better. Everyone's trying to find a way. I don't think you can look at any one thing. We're in this together for the rest of the year."

--Alfonso Soriano moved up from the sixth spot to cleanup, with Ramirez out of the lineup. Soriano went 1-for-4.

"We'll put him in the four-hole and try it, see how he does," said manager Lou Piniella.

--Xavier Nady served as the DH Friday. Nady is right-handed and played even with the Rangers starting right-handed pitcher Colby Lewis. Nady may see more DH time over the weekend when the Rangers throw lefties Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson at the Cubs. Nady was 1-for-4.

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