Jerry Hairston Jr., who had just one RBI in his first 98 at-bats, figured to lose his starting second base job when Todd Walker returns from a knee injury. But it could come sooner than that.
Manager Dusty Baker is mulling a lineup in which shortstop Neifi Perez
moves to second base and rookie Ronny Cedeno
moves to short.
Hairston came to the Cubs from Baltimore in the Sammy Sosa deal in February. He's a second baseman by trade, but the Cubs originally used him as a backup outfielder as well.
But in April, Walker and Nomar Garciaparra both went down with injuries, and Hairston was thrust into a starting role.
While he has been outstanding on defense, Hairston has been up and down on offense. He has had trouble with hitting signs and has struggled on the base paths.
"I would like to think he's in the process of learning the league," Baker said. "You see flashes of brilliance and sometimes ... well, he's never been bad, but we're waiting for him hopefully to go from good to great."
Ryan Dempster was not able to make an appearance in a 6-3 win on Friday against Washington because of stiffness in his right forearm.
But he considers himself lucky to just have a bruise after he was hit in the arm by a Mike Piazza line drive on Wednesday.
"I threw the fastball down and away and I thought I better be ready if he hit a line drive back at me," Dempster said. "And when he hit it, it hurt a lot. I didn't want him to know that. But when I went back to the dugout after the inning, Derrek (Lee) asked me, 'Are you all right?' and I said, 'I think I broke my arm.'
"If it would have hit the bone, it would have broken it. But it hit me in the flesh."
Sergio Mitre was sent back to Triple-A Iowa on Friday because the North Siders wanted an extra bat on the 25-man roster. Mitre came up on Tuesday but did not pitch.
Mike Fontenot was promoted because the Cubs were looking for an extra bat in the lineup with Aramis Ramirez and Jose Macias are banged up.
Glendon Rusch, who opened the season in the bullpen, finally pitched five innings but ran out of gas in the sixth and save up two runs on six hits in a no-decision against Washington on Friday night.
Mark Prior has allowed just three runs in his last 15 innings but has two no-decisions to show for his efforts. LaTroy Hawkins blew a save opportunity for him against Philadelphia on May 6, and Dempster blew one against the New York Mets on Wednesday.
Jason Dubois, who is getting more starts because of Todd Hollandsworth's struggles, was moved to fifth in the lineup after Ramirez missed Wednesday's game against the Mets because of back spasms.
Todd Walker headed to Arizona on Wednesday to start rehabbing a left knee injury. He will play in some minor league games and get plenty of at-bats. The original plan was for him to bat first in each inning.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Home runs hit by Corey Patterson in his first 34 games -- all of which were solo shots.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's only been five years." --Will Ohman, who jokingly wondered what the fuss was about when he recorded the win on Friday against Washington. His previous victory came three elbow surgeries ago in 2000.
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