07/31/2002 6:35 pm ET
Cubs, Pirates trade outfielders
Cubs trade Darren Lewis for Pirates' Chad Hermansen
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs, looking to the future, traded veteran outfielder Darren Lewis to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 24-year-old outfielder Chad Hermansen on Wednesday.
The deal wasn't really discussed until about half an hour before the trading deadline at 3 p.m. CT, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said.
The Pirates' first-round pick in the 1995 draft, Hermansen has a career .341 average at Wrigley Field but was batting .206 in 65 games this season with the Pirates.
"(Hendry) told me that they've been looking at me for a long time and have always been interested," Hermansen said. "It's hopefully a situation that will play itself out and I can do something over there.
"I'm not going to go to (Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon) and say 'Why aren't you playing me more?' when I'm hitting .200," Hermansen said. "It was just one of those situations where I just went out and tried to do the job."
Hermansen hoped to arrive in time for the Cubs game Friday against Colorado.
"I just told my wife and she didn't believe me," Hermansen said. "She's almost seven months pregnant so I have to make sure she is OK first."
Lewis, 34, was signed by the Cubs as a free agent in January. In 58 games, he batted .241 with no homers and seven RBIs. One of his unofficial roles was to serve as a mentor to young center fielder Corey Patterson.
"Darren Lewis has been a pro, a real pro for us," Hendry said. "He's done a real solid job as a defensive replacement. He's been a good mentor to Corey. But the chance to get an athlete of that age that our people still think has some upside, it seemed to be a solid decision for us."
Hermansen has seen big league action from 1999 to this season, batting .199 in 139 games for the Pirates with 12 homers and 29 RBIs. Hendry sees more pluses than minuses.
"Sometimes high picks don't do as well as expected with the club that picks them and have a tendency to go somewhere else and get jump started again," he said. "He's an athletic guy, he can play all three spots and he runs well. Hopefully the change of scenery will help his offense."
"I'm excited," Hermansen said. "It's all obviously very shocking. I'm just looking to play. It's been kind of hard for a few minutes realizing that I have made a lot of friends in this organization. It will be tough to move on but I am looking forward to the new changes ahead."
Besides his lofty average at Wrigley Field, Hermansen also has three home runs and six RBIs.
"I don't know how many home runs I have, but I know a majority of them have come at Wrigley Field against the Cubs," he said. "I'm sure that had a lot to do with their interest in me."
Cubs hitting coach Jeff Pentland apparently liked the right-handed hitter as well.
"It seems like a non-major deal," Hendry said, "but he's a 24-year-old outfielder who might be able to contribute not only now but next year.
"He's played well against us, obviously better than he has against the rest of the league," he said. "Jeff Pentland in the past has long referred to him as a guy who he thought there was more in there with the bat. He's a guy who you look forward to letting have some time here."
Lewis joins his eighth Major League team. He has played in the Majors since 1990 with Oakland, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles, Boston and the Cubs. In 1,353 Major League games, he has a .250 average with 27 homers and 342 RBIs.
Hendry said most of the interest from other teams focused on the young pitching and position players in the Cubs system.
"We're not in the pennant race but at the same time, all the people who were inquired about are people that I think we're going to build on for the future," Hendry said. "We have great young starting pitching. We have some position players here that are just getting started, we have some position players in the minor leagues who we think are going to be future every day guys with the Cubs."
Carrie Muskat covers the Cubs for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.