Notes: Murton to Return to Minors? Pie Setback?

The Cubs will have an interesting roster move to make if infielder-outfielder Jerry Hairston Jr. returns from an elbow injury on Friday.

Murton Could Face Temporary Demotion

The Cubs are not ready to announce a decision yet, but chances are good that rookie outfielder Matt Murton, who was hitting .339 after Tuesday's action, could be sent down.

"We'll see who has options and who doesn't," manager Dusty Baker said. "Whatever happens, it would be a short period of time before September (when the roster can be expanded to 40 men) is here."

The Cubs are carrying 12 pitchers on the staff and could part with one of them but with the way the bullpen has been working, that scenario doesn't seem likely.

Murton, who led off for just the second time in his career on Monday night, hit his first career home run, a solo shot in the second inning against Houston.

Maddux Mystery

Greg Maddux is 23 2/3 innings away from a $9 million jackpot. That's all he needed in order for a vesting option to kick in for the 2006 season.

But now there is talk that the 39-year-old right-hander might be mulling retirement.

If he's thinking about it, it likely won't come until after next season.

"I want to finish out strong and I want to come back and play next year as long as I feel I can play this game," he said.

After beating Houston 4-1 Tuesday, Maddux had the team lead in victories (10) and innings pitched (163 2/3). He moved into 16th on baseball's all-time win list with 315, passing Gaylord Perry.

"If you're good enough to play, you play," Maddux said. "If you're not, you quit. It's that simple.

"If I'm deserving enough to come back and play and wear a shirt with my name on the back, then believe me, I want to. I love the game."

Pitching Notes

Kerry Wood was able to pitch two innings of relief in Sunday's 5-4 victory over St. Louis. The Cubs would like to see if Wood, who was demoted to the bullpen because of continuous troubles with his right shoulder, is able to pitch in back-to-back games. Through Tuesday, he had given up no runs in seven innings of relief.

LHP Glendon Rusch made his first start since June 23, but it lasted just 3 2/3 innings after he gave up five runs on 10 hits against Houston. He will likely stay in the starting rotation, but the Cubs hope he can get stretched out to go deeper into games.

RHP Scott Williamson gave up two runs in one-third of an inning Saturday to help give St. Louis some breathing room in the seventh inning of the Cubs' 5-2 loss to the Cardinals. Williamson, who is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, was tough on himself but said, "The one good note was that I struck out Albert Pujols."

RHP Todd Wellemeyer was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Sunday, and LHP John Koronka was optioned back to Iowa. Wellemeyer has been a reliever on the major league squad and a starter at Iowa. He figures to get work as a long reliever in his third stint with the parent squad.

Pie Still Out of Action

CF Felix Pie, the top Cubs position prospect, was hoping to return from a right ankle injury last week to Double-A West Tenn, but ran into a setback. Pie has been nursing the injury since late June. The parent club was thinking about calling him up in September, but that would be unlikely if he doesn't get much playing time during the next few weeks.


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