Lee, Cubs Close to Extension

First baseman Derrek Lee wanted to have his contract situation settled by Opening Day.

As of Sunday night, he said the two sides were "close" and was willing to let the talks continue as long as there was progress.

"If it doesn't drag on, I'll let it go on a little while longer," Lee said. "Hopefully they will get something done in a few days."

Lee, who led the National League with a .335 average to go with 46 homers and 107 RBI in 2005, is rumored to be seeking a four- or five-year deal in the neighborhood of $12 million per season. Last year, the Cubs settled on a multiyear deal with Aramis Ramirez the morning of Opening Day.


--2B Todd Walker was given the starting job at second base over Jerry Hairston Jr. and Neifi Perez, but manager Dusty Baker said Hairston and Perez will get plenty of playing time. Hairston likely will be used against pitchers he's had success against, and Perez will be a backup at second base as well as at shortstop for Ronny Cedeno.

--LHP Sean Marshall, who was named the Cubs' April 9 starter against St. Louis in a nationally televised Sunday night game, had pitched 10 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball in Cactus League play. But the 23-year-old rookie faltered against San Diego on Friday night, giving up six runs in 4 2/3 innings.

--RHP Wade Miller, who is coming off shoulder surgery, officially was placed on the 15-day disabled list. The Cubs hope he will be ready to make his debut with the team in May.

--RHP Kerry Wood, who will open the season on the disabled list because of shoulder surgery last August, faced batters in a 25-pitch batting practice on Friday (March 31). If he doesn't feel pain, look for him to increase his workload with the hopes of coming back to the team in late April. He will open the season in extended spring training in Arizona.

--INF/OF Freddie Bynum reported to the Cubs after being traded on Friday and said he would do whatever it takes to help the club. The Cubs love the fact they have another left-handed bat off the bench and a player who can play six different spots. Bynum says he prefers to play shortstop, but Ronny Cedeno and Neifi Perez seem to have that spot covered. Manager Dusty Baker said he would watch Bynum play a little before defining a role for the 26-year-old.

BY THE NUMBERS: 14 -- Errors the Cubs had in their first 29 Cactus League games, the lowest among all major league teams in the exhibition season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Did that sneak up on somebody?" -- Cubs manager Dusty Baker, joking after ESPN and other national outlets made a major story out of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior going on the disabled list. Neither pitched during the Cactus League season, and it was inevitable both would land on the DL.

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