10/02/2003 6:44 PM ET
Notes: Welcome to chilly confines
April-like weather to greet teams for Game 3 in Chicago
CHICAGO -- Bundle up. It's going to be chilly Friday at Wrigley Field.
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
"It's going to be cold for everybody," Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "You've just got to deal with it."
It's the only drawback to baseball in October in Chicago. The Cubs will play Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves Friday and there's a 60 percent chance of rain. Temperatures could dip into the 40s.
"It'll be like April," Cubs pitcher Matt Clement said.
The best-of-five series is tied at one win apiece with the next two games at Wrigley.
"It's going to be our weather, our fans, our ballpark," said Chicago pitcher Mark Prior, who will start Friday.
"Rain, I've been dealing with that the last three or four starts here at home," Prior said. "It's not something that's ever easy, but when it's here it's better to be in our clubhouse than theirs. Cold? It doesn't really worry me.
"I'm kind of glad it's cooling off a bit," Prior said. "After spending all summer in St. Louis and here and the humidity, (the cold) revitalizes your body a little bit. Obviously when it's cold here, more times the wind is blowing in. The cold isn't going to bother me."
Knit caps, fleece tops and hooded sweatshirts were part of Thursday's dress code during the Cubs' workout. It was sunny, but chilly. Sammy Sosa wasn't concerned about the weather. He was happy to be home.
"This is my house," Sosa said. "I'm happy to show the city of Chicago we're for real."
New attitude: Manager Dusty Baker made it clear when he took over the job that he didn't like the "lovable losers" label attached to the Cubs. He appears to have shed that image in his first season.
Prior said Baker came in and "changed the entire philosophy of this organization, so it's not all right to lose or settle for second place."
Baker tried to downplay his role in the Cubs' winning the NL Central.
"It's a lot easier for people to believe you when you've just come off the World Series. That helps," said Baker, who arrived in Chicago after leading the San Francisco Giants to the championship last October.
"I mean, you do it with positive thoughts and positive speech," Baker said of the transformation. "You try to do it through helping the mindset of the organization and the fans and the Cub fans everywhere. You know, a lot of people have been Cub fans or former Cubs and it's been sort of in their heads that second place is OK. Well, second place isn't OK.
"When you look at Bill Parcells and some coaches who have been around a while that have gone to different teams, they have definite philosophies and things and how they go about doing things. But the No. 1 factor is you have to have the trust of your players."
The Cubs trust Baker.
"He's the man," Sosa said. "He's the captain of the team, he's the skipper. He makes you feel very comfortable."
Get your scorecards: Randall Simon, Alex Gonzalez and Damian Miller were expected to start Friday for the Cubs. Eric Karros has started the last two games at first base, while Gonzalez started Game 1 at shortstop but was replaced by Ramon Martinez in Game 2. Miller was behind the plate in Game 2.
So, the Cubs lineup will be Kenny Lofton, Mark Grudzielanek, Sosa, Moises Alou, Simon, Ramirez, Gonzalez, Miller and Prior.
It's all about the ring: Miller has been wearing his 2001 World Series ring which he won with the Arizona Diamondbacks. On Thursday, Moises Alou showed up with his ring from the 1997 World Series which he won as a member of the Florida Marlins.
"It's a playoff atmosphere," Alou said, flashing the
diamond-encrusted ring. "It's playoff power."
He's back: Cubs manager Dusty Baker's 4-year-old son Darren Baker was running the bases Thursday before the Cubs off-day workout. The youngster missed the last home weekend as well as the first two games in Atlanta because of an ear infection. He had plenty of energy on Thursday.
Nerves of steel: Cubs closer Joe Borowski admits he's had a few butterflies in the NLDS. He's still learning how to control them.
"I learned a lesson in the Yankees series," he said of the Cubs' Interleague clash in June. In that series, Borowski gave up a leadoff homer to Jorge Posada in the ninth on June 7, but eventually got the save. The next day, he also made it interesting, serving up two runs in the ninth but the Cubs won when he picked off pinch-runner Charles Gipson at first.
"From that point on, I've been able to control it instead of it controlling me," he said of his nerves. "I make it an asset."
Prior never seems to lose his cool.
"He has a game plan and he sticks with it," Borowski said. "He doesn't come unglued. I think he understands at an early age that you have to control what's going on instead of having it control you."
Has Borowski learned that?
"I'm still working on it," he said.
Glovework: Ramirez led the National League with 33 errors this season, and was charged with 10 in 63 games with the Cubs. However, the third baseman was dazzling on defense in Game 2 on Wednesday at Turner Field.
"This is the time of year when you can't make a mistake," Ramirez said Thursday. "The Braves have a good lineup and you don't want to give them any opportunities."
Numbers game: Atlanta's Game 3 starter Greg Maddux has won 15 games in 16 consecutive seasons, breaking a tie with Cy Young. That's pretty good company. Sosa is 13-for-56 in his career against the Braves right-hander with three home runs and 12 strikeouts. Maddux is 52-35 lifetime at Wrigley Field, including a win this year, and 11-3 overall against the Cubs.
The one pitcher Sosa doesn't want to see is Braves closer John Smoltz. Sosa is 4-for-38 with 18 strikeouts against the right-hander.
Alou is 16-for-62, Gonzalez 2-for-14, Grudzielanek 16-for-46, Karros 12-for-52 with 14 Ks, and Ramirez is 3-for-14.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.