Third Baseman by Committee

It'll be mix and match at third base for now. With Aramis Ramirez out for about two months with a dislocated left shoulder, manager Lou Piniella will use several players at third.

Mike Fontenot started Tuesday's series opener against San Diego. It's possible newcomer Ryan Freel will get the start Wednesday.

Other options are Aaron Miles and Bobby Scales. Ramirez has been the Cubs' most productive hitter for the last several years, and Piniella says he knows the Cubs can't duplicate that with him out. And he doesn't want the subs to try.

"No, just be themselves," he said.

Piniella added that he would welcome one player taking over at third base if that one player is producing. He singled out the play of Fontenot, who made a pair of sparkling defensive plays in Milwaukee over the weekend.

Overall, Piniella says he'd like his offense to be "a little more selective" with runners in scoring position.


Rich Harden tossed six innings of four-hit, two-run ball Tuesday, striking out five. The Cubs got a two-run homer in the sixth from Milton Bradley off Jake Peavy to rally the Cubs from 2-1 down. Scales added a pinch homer in the seventh.


--Scales hit his first major league home run, a pinch homer leading off the seventh inning Tuesday. Scales has hit safely in the first five games of his big league career since his call-up May 4. Scales is 2-for-2 as a pinch hitter. He had a pinch triple in Milwaukee on Friday.

--CF Kosuke Fukudome extended his hitting streak to five games with a pair of doubles and a single Tuesday. He also stole a base. Piniella said he was impressed with Fukudome going the opposite way to left field for the doubles and to deep short for the single.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano will pitch in a rehab game Friday or Saturday for Class A Daytona, and the Cubs tentatively have him scheduled to return to the rotation May 22 in San Diego. Zambrano has been on the disabled list since May 4 with a strained left hamstring. He'll throw a bullpen session Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

--RHP Ryan Dempster will start Thursday's series finale against the Padres. For the first two games against Houston this weekend, the Cubs will start RHP Randy Wells and LHP Sean Marshall.

--1B Derrek Lee returned to the lineup Tuesday for the first time in a week after battling a bulging disk in his neck. He struck out three times and walked once. The ailment has caused neck spasms. The condition will continue to be there, but Lee said as long as there is no inflammation, he can play. He said the medical and training staffs have treated the inflammation.



At Colorado Springs, the Cubs (17-14) collected a season-high 15 runs and 20 hits in the walk-off loss Tuesday. 1B Jake Fox (3-for-4) hit two home runs, drove in five runs and reached base five times. C Mark Johnson (3-for-5) added a season-high three hits as seven Iowa players recorded two hits or more. Of the Cubs' 20 hits, nine were for extra bases. Iowa batters also drew eight walks. On the mound, the Cubs used six pitchers with RHP Kevin Hart (0-3) suffering the loss. He allowed two runs and three hits to four batters faced. RHP Esmailin Caridad started and allowed five runs and eight hits in five innings. He walked three batters and struck out one. The Cubs and Sky Sox combined for 42 hits.


At Sevierville, the Smokies (14-14) were held to three hits in the loss Tuesday. CF Brandon Guyer (2-for-4) led the offense with two hits atop the order. RHP Casey Coleman started and threw six scoreless innings, allowing two hits. He struck out two batters and walked three in a no-decision. LHP Jeremy Papelbon (0-3) suffered the loss in relief, allowing the game's only run and three hits over two innings.


At Daytona Beach, the Cubs (14-17) got the walk-off victory Tuesday. CF Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-4) had two hits, including the game-winning single. SS Starlin Castro (2-for-4) added two hits and two RBI. RHP Dan McDaniel started and received a no-decision, allowing three runs and five hits over five innings. He struck out six batters and walked three. RHP Jake Muyco (1-2) got the win in relief.


At Peoria, the Chiefs totaled 11 hits in the victory Tuesday. DH Josh Harrison, LF Kyler Burke and 2B Junior Lake each finished 2-for-4. RHP Marcus Hatley (2-1) started and got the win. He allowed two runs and four hits over five innings, and struck out four batters.


The Chiefs (17-14) were held to one hit in the shutout loss. CF David Macias (1-for-2) picked up the team's only hit. RHP Justin Bristow (0-2) started and suffered the loss, allowing two runs and four hits over four innings. He struck out three batters and did not allow a walk.

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