Fontenot Gets the Nod

The Cubs apparently have settled on a third baseman until Aramis Ramirez comes off the disabled list sometime in early to mid-July.

Manager Lou Piniella said that the left-handed hitting Mike Fontenot would get the bulk of the playing time at third from now on. Piniella has tried Fontenot and Bobby Scales, but with Aaron Miles and Ryan Freel on the DL and the Cubs looking for some dependable defense at third, Fontenot will be the man.

Scales will move to second base, where he will share time with the recently recalled Andres Blanco, who also will spell Ryan Theriot at short.

Don't look for Jake Fox at third any time soon. The Cubs recalled the hottest hitter in the minor leagues last week, but Fox will probably see only pinch-hitting duties until Piniella and infield coach Alan Trammell are comfortable enough to let him start.

As good a hitter as he has been in pro ball, Fox has been a man without a position since being drafted as a catcher in 2003.

The sticky part is that the Cubs are looking for somebody to pick up some of the slack left by Ramirez, who has been the team's most productive and consistent hitter over the last several years. Fontenot has not homered since May 3, but he did hit a double and a triple in Saturday's game against the Dodgers.

DODGERS 8, CUBS 2: LHP Sean Marshall gave up five runs on six hits in the first inning, and the game was all but over then. CF Reed Johnson continued his hot hitting with two doubles and a single. He drove in both Cubs runs.


--RHP Rich Harden will throw a bullpen session Tuesday in Atlanta. Harden is on the DL with a mid-back strain. He's eligible to return, but he probably won't do so until next week, when the Cubs are in Houston.

--Marshall will head to the bullpen once Harden returns to the rotation from the DL. Piniella said Marshall will give the Cubs an experienced lefty in the pen, something they lack now with the demotion of Neal Cotts to Class AAA Iowa (Des Moines). Marshall had success last year as both a starter and reliever.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- Games for which RHP Carlos Zambrano was suspended due to his actions May 27. After getting ejected by plate umpire Mark Carlson, Zambrano pretended to throw Carlson out of the game. He threw the ball into left-center field before flinging his glove to the dugout fence. Zambrano finished by taking a bat to the Gatorade fountain in the dugout.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think things are going to turn out all right here, I really do." -- Piniella on what the rest of the season holds after a slow start.


--Johnson has a six-game hitting streak, during which he's gone 10-for-22. The right-handed hitting Johnson has played a lot lately because the Cubs ran up against a slew of left-handed pitchers, sending OF Kosuke Fukudome to the bench.

--Freel packed his bags in advance of a Monday morning flight to Arizona, where he will begin rehabbing his left hamstring. Freel went on the DL May 28, and he says he will not need more than the 15 days of DL time to be ready to play again.

--RHP Ryan Dempster has been bothered by a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. However, that shouldn't do anything to affect his next turn in the rotation, according to Piniella. The Cubs have an off-day Monday. Dempster is scheduled to start Friday at Cincinnati. Piniella said that if Dempster needs one more day, Marshall can pitch Friday with Dempster going Saturday.



At Memphis, Tenn., the Cubs (26-25) out-hit the Redbirds, 8-4, in the seven-inning loss Sunday. LF John-Ford Griffin (3-for-3) paced the offense with three hits and finished a home run shy of the cycle. C Chris Robinson (2-for-3) and CF Sam Fuld (2-for-4) each had two hits and an RBI apiece. Robinson is 8-for-14 in his last four games and leads the team with a .384 batting average since Jake Fox was promoted to Chicago. RHP Justin Berg (1-1) suffered the loss in relief, allowing three runs and two hits in the final inning. RHP Kevin Hart started and went six innings, allowing one run and two hits. He struck out seven and did not allow a walk. He has a 1.29 ERA and 15 strikeouts to three walks in three starts.


At Zebulon, N.C., the Smokies (21-30) were held to four hits en route to their eighth consecutive loss Sunday. Tennessee batters drew seven walks with LF Ty Wright (1-for-2, RBI) and 2B Tony Thomas (0-for-2) collecting two walks apiece. RHP Marcos Mateo (1-3) started and suffered the loss, allowing four runs and five hits in four innings. He walked three and struck out two.


At Daytona Beach, the Cubs (21-23) collected 14 hits in the victory Sunday. Five players finished with two hits or more, including C Robinson Chirinos (3-for-5, eight RBI), who paced the offense with two grand slams. CF Tony Campana (2-for-5) added two hits atop the order and is 10-for-25 over his last six games. RHP Andrew Cashner started and tossed four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk. RHP Henry Williamson (4-2) picked up the win in relief with three scoreless innings.


At Midland, Mich., the Chiefs (25-23) collected six hits in the loss Sunday. 3B Josh Vitters (2-for-4) paced the offense with his 13th home run. He ended the month of May with a .386 average, 12 homers, and 27 RBI in 29 games. Over his last 10 games, he is batting .341 with six homers. LHP Jeff Beliveau (0-2) started and suffered the loss, allowing one run and three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out seven batters and walked four.

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