Cubs notebook: Crosstown series, Ramirez coming back and more.
The White Sox could be ripe for three beatings. Or they could be ready to bust out. The Cubs and Sox square off in a three-game set starting Friday at U.S. Cellular Field. The Sox have been sliding since the Cubs took two of three from them at Wrigley Field May 18 to 20. The Sox are 8-20 since that series vs. the Cubs. Cubs manager Lou Piniella doesn’t think this is a team the Cubs can just kick around. “It’s a rivalry, and past performance you can just throw out the window,” Piniella said. “It’s competition. They won’t be down against us. Their fans won’t let them. The fans won’t let either team get down.” The Cubs have also sputtered since the first Sox series, going 12-17. “We need to get into a little streak and run off seven or eight out of 10,” Piniella said. “We get ourselves in position to do it and we just don’t close the door. We won five out of seven with a chance to springboard a couple of times and we get back and lost a few ballgames.” Weekend Warriors IV? So far this month, the Cubs have had three wild weekends. On June 1, pitcher Carlos Zambrano and catcher Michael Barrett got into two fights, one in the dugout and one in the clubhouse. Barrett — who was traded Wednesday to San Diego — needed stitches to close a cut around his mouth. The day after that, Piniella was thrown out of a game against Atlanta after arguing with and kicking dirt on umpire Mark Wegner. On June 8, Alfonso Soriano hit three homers in a game against the Braves at Turner Field. Later in the contest he tried to stretch a single into a double. Soriano was thrown out on that play, but the Braves reportedly were angered by his move. The next night, Atlanta’s Tim Hudson hit Soriano with the first pitch of the game. One day later, Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly hit Edgar Renteria with a pitch in the first inning and was thrown out of the game. One week ago, members of the San Diego Padres were upset that Soriano, after hitting a home run, started running backward toward first base. On Saturday, Derrek Lee was hit in the arm by a Chris Young pitch and, after the two exchanged words, Lee threw a punch at Young, starting a benches-clearing brawl. Move Ahead Aramis Ramirez (left patellar tendinitis) said he is ready to come off the disabled list to play today against the Sox. “I’m going to be the designated hitter,” said Ramirez, who leads the club with 13 homers and 39 RBI. “I can take advantage of being in the lineup.” After Thursday’s game the Cubs optioned relief pitcher Sean Gallagher to Triple-A Iowa, clearing a roster spot for Ramirez. The Idiot Box The Cubs had ESPN on in the clubhouse Thursday morning, and it wasn’t exactly must-see TV. Mark DeRosa was standing near the television when his first-inning error in Wednesday night’s game was replayed. “Yeah, I couldn’t see!” the third baseman yelled at the TV. DeRosa had an ocular migraine and it affected his vision. He left the game in the second inning but returned Thursday. A few minutes later, Zambrano sat on a couch watching “Baseball Tonight.” During a lengthy panel discussion, members mused about the Zambrano factor in the Barrett trade. More than one replay of the Zambrano-Barrett dugout fight was shown. A disgusted Zambrano left midway through the segment. That’s a Keeper Cory Provus, who usually calls an inning on WGN-AM (720) when play-by-play man Pat Hughes takes a break, was at the right place at the right time Wednesday night. Provus did his announcing duty in the fifth inning, when Sammy Sosa hit his 600th career home run. Sorry, Mark When Mark Prior was demoted to Triple-A Iowa near the end of spring training, he was not pleased but sarcastically joked that maybe he could make it to the Futures Game. While Prior, who underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in April, did not make the Futures Game, it was announced Iowa catcher Geovany Soto did. Soto, who has played in a total of 12 games with the Cubs in 2005 and ’06 will represent the World Team in the July 8 battle at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. More Cubs coverage is online at www.dailysouthtown.com/sports.