Cubs look to put opener behind them

The mantra coming from the Cubs on Monday following their sloppy 16-5 loss at Atlanta in the season opener was that it was only one of 162 games.

The Cubs did not play Tuesday, giving the shell-shocked team a chance to regroup.

The 2007 and 2008 teams both lost their season openers and went on to win the National League Central.

"It's just a game; it's just one game," said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who had two of the Cubs' five hits, including a homer.

Although manager Lou Piniella was looking forward to the day off after a long spring training, Ramirez sounded a different tone, saying, "I'd rather play."

Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome and Marlon Byrd accounted for all of the five hits the Cubs got against the Braves. Alfonso Soriano grounded out weakly twice and struck out twice as he began the season in the sixth hole.

"It's Opening Day. We've got some things to find out about this group, and we'll find them out relatively quick," Piniella said. "I think I'd rather have the day off. A day off doesn't hurt anyone, it really doesn't."


--RHP Ryan Dempster, who starts the second game of the season Wednesday in Atlanta, was the only Cubs pitcher to reach 200 innings last year. Dempster is 0-8 with a 5.10 ERA at Turner Field. During a strong spring training, he was 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA. Dempster is a workout freak who came to camp in good shape, and he was able to reach 200 innings last year despite spending three weeks on the disabled list in July with a broken right big toe.

--Fukudome was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored in Monday's opener. For his career in March-April entering this year, he was 24-for-71 (.338) with four homers and 15 RBIs.

--SS Ryan Theriot, kicking off his first full season as the Cubs' leadoff hitter, went 0-for-4 in the opener. He put the bat on the ball three times and struck out once. He lined into a double play when pinch hitter Chad Tracy got caught off first base in the fifth inning with the game still in hand.

--RHP Carlos Zambrano will make his second start Sunday at Cincinnati. Zambrano has suffered several Opening Day meltdowns, but he said he was not too keyed up to pitch against the Braves. There had been talk in recent years that Zambrano would not start openers anymore because he gets too amped.

"I was nice and calm," Zambrano said. "I was trying to do my job, and unfortunately, I couldn't do it (Monday)."

Zambrano also denied that he was rushing his pitches, a habit he picks up when he becomes frustrated with himself, teammates or umpires.

--C Geovany Soto was 0-for-3 in Monday's opener. He had a pair of groundouts and a strikeout. The Cubs still are trying to find out whether Soto will be the player who won the Rookie of the Year award in 2008 or the one who fell off badly last year, batting .218 with 11 homers. Soto reported to camp in good physical shape, having lost 40 pounds in the offseason. But he did not hit well in the Cactus League, going 8-for-37 (.216) with only one extra-base hit, a double.

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