Notebook: Ramirez, Santo Hoping for Better News

Manager Dusty Baker believes third baseman Aramis Ramirez can have a breakout year in 2005.

"He could be a mega player," Baker said.

Ramirez is just 26 but already has 767 major league games under his belt and three seasons in which he drove in 100 or more runs.

Plus, Ramirez cut down on his errors on defense from 33 in 2003 to just 10 in 2004.

Last year, he also nailed a career-high 36 home runs and beat Ron Santo's longtime team record for homers by a third baseman (33 in 1965). And he led the club with a .318 average.

Because of the big year, he is looking for a long-term contract for four years and $10 million to $13 million per year.

He signed a one-year, $8.95 deal in early February with the understanding the Cubs would likely hammer out a multiyear deal with him in spring training.

When Ramirez reported to training camp last week, he didn't want to talk about the money situation.

"I don't know what's going on with that, yet," Ramirez said. "I'll do my work on the field and my agent (Adam Katz) will do that other work. I can't control that. I'll take care of my part on the field.

"If we're going to get something done, I hope it gets done during spring training. I don't want this to go into the season. I like the city and would like to be there for a while."

NOTES, QUOTES

—Radio analyst Ron Santo lost out on his bid to win the Ford C. Frick Award on Feb. 22. He is hoping to hear better news on March 2 when the Veterans Committee announces its voting for the regular Hall of Fame.

—Spring training coach Ryne Sandberg, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July, will have his number — 23 — retired in a ceremony at Wrigley Field in August. Sandberg is the fourth player in Cubs history to have his number retired.

—RHP Kerry Wood has been tabbed the Opening Day starter for the third season in a row.

—LHP Will Ohman, who had three surgeries to his left elbow in 2002 and 2003, is hoping to land a spot in the bullpen after posting an 0.90 ERA and saving 14 games in the Mexican winter leagues.

"His stuff was really good," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "Our staff saw him, and he was throwing 92-94 (mph) pretty much every night to go with a plus slider. It's winter ball, but there is enough pressure down there to put you into a spot where you have to sink or swim."

—SS Nomar Garciaparra was originally signed to an incentive-laden, one-year deal that had a base salary of $8 million, but the Cubs showed some good faith by bumping it up to $8.25 million. The Cubs are hoping that if he has a strong and healthy year, he would consider signing a longer deal with the team after the season.

BY THE NUMBERS:
12—Seasons new Cubs right fielder Jeromy Burnitz has played in the major league.

0—Postseason games Burnitz has played in.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"Who knows? If I get hot, maybe 80 or 90 or something like that. If we have the wind blowing out (at Wrigley Field) for every home game—that's good for 80." —Cubs right fielder Jeromy Burnitz, joking about how many homers he can hit in his first year with the team.


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