No Frets over Baker's Contract

The Cubs finalized a two-year contract extension with general manager Jim Hendry over the weekend, and one of the first questions he was asked was about the future of manager Dusty Baker.

Baker is in the final year of a four-year deal, and the speculation is that the skipper will be retained.

But when that happens remains to be seen.

"Everyone is going to be curious about Dusty's situation," Hendry said. "We have a terrific relationship. I feel the same way about Dusty as the first day we hired him.

"We've had a lot of chats and will continue to have a lot of chats about his situation. There is no controversy."

Baker said he is not worrying about it.

"I've been on the last year of my contract five times," he said. "I'm just worried about winning. Everything else will take care of itself."

SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL BARRETT
CAPTION: Michael Barrett runs the bases after hitting a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the seventh inning to tie a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 8, 2006 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Cardinals 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel\Getty Images)
REPLAY: Michael Barrett hit a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning of the Cubs' 8-4 victory over the Cardinals to help Chicago sweep St. Louis for the first time since 2001.

Barrett also hit a game-tying, two-run, pinch home run in Saturday's 3-2 victory over the Cards. It should have been one of the best weekends of Barrett's life, but he had other things on his mind.

"I had a tree fall through my house during a tornado back home (in Atlanta)," Barrett said. "It's been kind of bittersweet in a weird way. As far as baseball goes, it's magical. But on a personal level, during the tornado Friday, it was bad luck. There are 180 homes in our development, and it just happened to find us. I think God was faithful -- (my family members) weren't in the house. My parents kept it (the news) from me until Saturday night. Everything is OK. And I had the best weekend in my life."

NOTES, QUOTES

--RF Jacque Jones was demoted from fifth to sixth in the lineup Sunday after an 0-for-12 start in the first four games. "He's trying so hard, he's not swinging at strikes," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "They're not getting him out, he's getting himself out." But on Sunday, Jones responded with a three-run home run in the fourth inning off St. Louis RHP Sidney Ponson to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead.

--LHP Sean Marshall made his major league debut Sunday night against St. Louis and allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings. He gave up a two-run homer to Scott Rolen in the first inning but then retired the next 10 of 11 batters before he got into trouble in the fifth.

--RHP Michael Wuertz, who made a team-high 75 appearances last year, made his first appearance of the season Sunday with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth inning against St. Louis. Wuertz was not charged with the runs, but he gave up a two-run single to Albert Pujols to put the Cubs in a 4-3 hole.

--1B Derrek Lee had said that he wanted a resolution to his contract by Saturday or he would shut down negotiations. But he softened his stance that day and said that the two sides were close enough to let it go on a few more days. An announcement could be made early this week.

--C Michael Barrett hit a two-run, pinch homer against St. Louis on Saturday, giving the Cubs two pinch homers in their first four games. The Cubs only had two pinch homers all last season. Barrett added a grand slam Sunday.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25 -- Players who showed up at Great American Ball Park on the off day April 4 for a voluntary workout.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I said, 'Hey, how are you doing, my name is Todd Walker.' And he said, 'Hey, Tom, how are you?' I guess I didn't make too good of an impression." -- Cubs second baseman Todd Walker on meeting President Bush before the April 3 season opener in Cincinnati.


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