Inside Pitch: Trammell talks up Infield

One of the duties of new Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell is to work with the infield.

The four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop, who helped turn 1,321 double plays in his career, is looking forward to his duties with an infield that has two Gold Glove players and a pair of question marks.

First baseman Derrek Lee and shortstop Cesar Izturis are former Gold Glove winners whose 2006 seasons were shortened because of injuries. Lee nursed a fractured right wrist and Izturis had troubles with a nagging right hamstring injury before and after a trade-deadline deal that sent him from the Dodgers to the Cubs.

"I've been a big Derrek Lee fan, and I hope he's in the lineup for the year," Trammell said. "I'm familiar with Perry Hill, and he's the infield coach at Florida. He told me Derrek was as good as anybody he has seen. He's been taught well, so I'll just incorporate and continue to work to keep him sharp. There isn't a whole lot that you are going to teach him. I'll just re-enforce things and make sure he gets his proper work.

"And Cesar Izturis is someone we need to count on to play for a full season. The dependability of players like that is very important to having a championship club."

Things at second and third base are still up in the air.

The Cubs have a contract extension offer on the table for third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but he may use an "out" clause in his current deal and become a free agent.

Young players Ronny Cedeno and Ryan Theriot could battle for the job as the starting second baseman, but if the Cubs bring in Alfonso Soriano as a free agent, he could either work in the outfield or return to his preferred position at second base.

Meanwhile Trammell, who was Detroit's manager from 2003-2005, took the 2006 campaign off and enjoyed watching his former team's rise to the World Series this year.

"I know our staff had a small part in developing this team, but it's Jim Leyland's team," Trammell said. "I'm glad that it happened and I'm glad I was a part of it, but it's Jim Leyland's team."

NOTES, QUOTES

--3B Aramis Ramirez has still not agreed to a contract extension with the Cubs and could use an "out" clause in his four-year deal to become a free agent.

--CF Juan Pierre still has not agreed to a deal with the Cubs and likely will test the free agent market.

--LHP Sean Marshall is hoping to stay in the rotation in 2007 but may have to prove himself again in spring training. Marshall was 6-9 with a 5.59 ERA in 24 starts but had just one victory after July 5.

--RHP Wade Miller, who made just five starts in 2006 after he had shoulder surgery in 2005, is a player the Cubs want back, and they may make him an incentive-laden offer in the coming weeks. Miller is eligible for free agency.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano figures to get some votes but will likely fall short of winning the Cy Young Award when it is announced on Nov. 14. Zambrano is the only Cubs player in the running for a major award for the 2006 season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Number of managers, including the new Cubs skipper Lou Piniella, who had more than 1,400 career hits as a player and more than 1,400 wins as a manager.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're both very excited because we've both been off for a year." -- New Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell on returning to the game with new skipper Lou Piniella.


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