Notes from the Chicago Cubs include items on Jacque Jones and Michael Barrett being benched and Carlos Zambrano making mysterious "jokes."
They sure look and sound like demotions.
But let the record show that Cubs manager Lou Piniella considers the reductions in playing time for outfielder Jacque Jones and catcher Michael Barrett “rests.”
After outfielder Matt Murton’s demotion Wednesday to Triple-A Iowa, Cliff Floyd got the start in right Wednesday and Thursday against Seattle. Piniella said Thursday that the left-handed-hitting Floyd would play right field against right-handers, with the switch-hitting Angel Pagan getting a majority of the starts vs. left-handers.
As for the left-handed-hitting Jones?
“Look, I’m trying to give him a little bit of a breather to see if we can get him going,” Piniella said. “Sometimes a few days just to get the cobwebs out and to relax is a better tonic or remedy than just fighting your way through it.”
Jones was retired on a flyout as a pinch-hitter during the sixth inning of Thursday’s 5-4 Cubs victory. He’s hitting .232 this season, with two homers and 19 RBI in 190 at-bats. After enjoying a 3-for-4 game Thursday, Floyd is hitting .319 with three homers and 25 RBI in 119 at-bats.
Piniella also started backup catcher Koyie Hill for the second straight game Thursday — a day game after a night game — instead of Barrett. Piniella said Barrett will be behind the plate today and Sunday against San Diego. Hill will get the call Saturday, when Carlos Zambrano is to pitch.
Barrett has not caught for Zambrano since June 1, when the two got into a pair of altercations.
One thing Barrett has been catching is grief about defensive mistakes and how he’s not getting along with his pitchers. He and Rich Hill had a heated conversation in the dugout during Tuesday’s game.
“Barrett has been getting beat up, and it’s unfair in a way because he’s caught some darn good games, too,” Piniella said. “When you start looking at some teams, you don’t look at one individual. You look at the team as a whole. The manager included. I know he’s struggled some, but I don’t like to see one player singled out.”
When asked if Koyie Hill is the No. 1 catcher, Piniella said, “Let’s take it one day at a time.”
Floyd Watches His Health
Floyd said his ailing father, Cornelius, is getting a little better and that a breathing tube the elder Floyd is using was scheduled to be removed either Thursday or today.
Cornelius Floyd, 57, remains in an intensive care unit because of fluid around his heart and kidneys. Cliff said his father had a kidney transplant about 20 years ago.
Cliff, 34, is cognizant of the fact that his father, grandfather and grandmother have been beset by various illnesses.
“I stay on top of (my health),” Floyd said. “I get checked every other day. Blood. Blood pressure. Cholesterol. Creatine levels. Everything. The man upstairs will say, ‘You’re it,’ and ‘You’re it.’ But if I can avoid it ... at least I know what I’m dealing with.”
Maddux's Last Stand?
San Diego comes to town for a three-game series starting today. Greg Maddux is scheduled to pitch in Sunday’s finale.
Maddux, 41, who served two tours of duty with the Cubs, started at Wrigley Field on April 17 against the Cubs, allowing three runs in five innings in a no-decision.
Yada, Yada, Yada
Zambrano had a box full of catching gear — including red shin guards — near his locker Thursday.
“This is a gift for my next catcher — Yadier Molina,” Zambrano joked.
Zambrano, who can become a free agent after this season, wouldn’t say whether that meant Molina was coming to the Cubs or Zambrano was heading to St. Louis to play for the Cardinals.
Left-hander Clay Rapada made his major league debut Thursday for the Cubs and retired the only batter he faced — Seattle’s Raul Ibanez — with runners at first and second in the eighth. ... Outfielder Daryle Ward (left hip) started a rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A Iowa. He’ll likely stay there through the weekend and could be activated Tuesday from the disabled list. ... After Wednesday’s no-decision, Iowa left-hander Neal Cotts is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA with 12 walks and 14 strikeouts in five starts since being demoted by the Cubs on May 22.
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