Hendry to Lou: You're Safe!

Sooner or later, the talk was bound to start. On Monday, it finally did. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com wrote that if the Cubs don't turn things around soon, they should consider firing manager Lou Piniella and replacing him with bench coach Alan Trammell.

General manager Jim Hendry, seen by most as much to blame for the team's struggles this season as the manager, rushed to Piniella's defense.

"I'm absolutely, completely confident in Lou Piniella," Hendry said Monday before the Cubs' game against Colorado at Wrigley Field. "I've never given any thought about Lou not being the manager here this year. I have complete faith in the coaching staff also. I have no intention of making any changes at all."

Piniella, 66, is in the final year of his contract. The Cubs reached the playoffs in his first two years (2007-08) and had a winning record last year.

Piniella did not seem bothered by the speculation.

"I've said all along that we're going to get better," he said. "I feel that way. And we've got the team here to do it. Jim and I have worked closely together, and you go through some tough times and you go through some good times in this business."

CUBS 4, ROCKIES 2 (11 innings): Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer with one out in the bottom of the 11th to lift the Cubs to their second straight win. Randy Wells didn't get a decision, but he worked 6 2/3 solid innings, giving up seven hits and one run. Sean Marshall (3-1) worked the final two innings, striking out four after Carlos Marmol suffered a blown save.


--Carlos Zambrano is going through yet another role change, and it may eventually lead to him starting again this season. After the game, Piniella said the Cubs would "stretch out" Zambrano in a longer relief role, and he admitted Zambrano could start again at some point.

Last month, the Cubs moved their $91.5 million Opening Day starter to the eighth-inning role (one of the team's most head-scratching moves yet) but he never looked or felt comfortable there.

"Look, we thought that the outcome would be a little different," Piniella said of the setup role. "He's not as comfortable with it in the bullpen pitching short, so we're going to use him in a different way and get him some stamina, build up his arm ... The next step, probably down the road (is the rotation), if need be, yes."

--Tyler Colvin made his first start since May 9. It's been hard for Colvin to break into the lineup because of the good hitting by Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome. Xavier Nady also has been getting playing time.

Hendry said it's not yet time to think about getting Colvin at-bats in the minor leagues. Colvin was the Cubs' top hitter in spring training.

"These are good problems to discuss," Hendry said. "We'll be very cognizant of Tyler's future, too. In fairness to the kid, he's held together pretty well. He's still contributed when he's played."

--Ryan Theriot did not start for a second straight day. He was hit on the left elbow by a pitch Saturday and did not play Sunday. Piniella said Theriot would be able to start Tuesday.

"It's good," Theriot said. "Lou said he wanted to give me one more day to try to get the swelling out. I feel fine."

Theriot flied out as a pinch hitter and stayed in the game at second base.

--Ramirez's game-winning homer was his first home run since April 15. He said he doesn't feel all the way back to form.

"I'm still hitting .170," he said. "I've got to go out there and get hits and drive in runs and just help this team. We need runs, and I'm one of the key guys."

--Starlin Castro had three hits and was on base when Ramirez homered to win the game. Castro is 13-for-36 (.361) since coming up from the minor leagues on May 7.

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