Derrick Lee's appeal hearing postponed

Jeff Vorva

Derrek Lee has a few more weeks to relax. He will be playing through the All-Star break.

The Cubs star first baseman, who was suspended five games by Major League Baseball for throwing punches at San Diego pitcher Chris Young during the June 16 game at Wrigley Field, will not have his appeal heard until after the All-Star break, according to manager Lou Piniella.

“It’s been postponed,” Piniella said Friday. “It will happen sometime after the break.’’

“It was originally set for Monday,” Lee said. “Then they changed it. I have no idea when it will take place.”

The postponement means Lee will be available for the Cubs’ four-game series at Washington that starts Monday and their three-game set beginning July 6 at Pittsburgh. That series leads into the All-Star break.

The Cubs are hoping Lee’s penalty will be reduced to three games.

During the incident, Young hit Lee in the arm with a pitch and the two jawed while Lee was on his way to first base. Between the mound and first base, the two got closer before Lee threw a punch, setting off a benches-clearing melee.

Shortly after the punishment was handed down, Lee said, “If you charge a mound, you get three games. I don’t see how what I did was different.”

Lee entered Friday’s action against Milwaukee second in the National League in hitting with a .346 average. He has six homers and 40 RBI.

Wood increases workload

Kerry Wood, recovering from a shoulder injury, had his second bullpen session of the week on Friday morning. He worked off the mound for 12 minutes.

The right-hander took eight warmup tosses before firing 33 pitches. Three days earlier, he reportedly threw 18 pitches off the hill. This is the first mound work for Wood since late March.

Messing with the rotation

If pitcher Carlos Zambrano is named to the National League All-Star team on Sunday, Piniella said he would consider using Thursday’s off day to juggle the Cubs’ rotation.

As it stands, Zambrano is slated to pitch Tuesday in Washington and July 8 in Pittsburgh, meaning he wouldn’t be available for the Midsummer Classic on July 10 in San Francisco. Piniella said it’s possible Zambrano could pitch Monday and July 7 without altering his routine.

“The All-Star Game is important, but we’re trying to win games here,” Piniella said.

Murton for certain

Matt Murton, who was the Cubs’ Opening Day left fielder, had three hits in Triple-A Iowa’s 10-5 loss to Oklahoma on Thursday.

Since he was sent down on June 13, Murton has hit .304 in 12 games at Iowa, with a homer and five RBI.

Short hops

Catcher Henry Blanco, sidelined with a herniated disc in his neck, took part in throwing drills Friday. ... Piniella said Bob Howry would be the closer while Ryan Dempster (left oblique) is on the disabled list. Howry, Will Ohman and Carlos Marmol all earned saves in the past week. ... Right-hander Juan Mateo (shoulder) threw four scoreless innings Thursday for Class A Peoria. He’s 0-1 with a 7.15 ERA in four starts.

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