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Notes: Kudos to grounds crew
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07/04/2004  9:10 PM ET
Notes: Kudos to grounds crew
Wood to make minor league start Tuesday in Iowa
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Dusty Baker and Ozzie Guillen check out the field condition Saturday. (M. Spencer Green/AP)
CHICAGO -- Umpire Charlie Reliford stopped by Wrigley Field early Sunday to receive treatment for back spasms. But as long as he was there, Reliford checked out the infield.

On Saturday, torrential rains interrupted play during the Chicago Cubs game against the Chicago White Sox for more than three hours before the game was finally called after 5 1/2 innings. The Cubs won, 4-2.

"After the third inning, it was too soft," Cubs shortstop Rey Ordonez said. "You couldn't even walk over there."

About 200 50-pound bags of a drying compound were dumped on the infield Saturday in an attempt to make the field playable. Most of that sand was removed Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. CT, by the 15- member grounds crew who had the field back in shape for Sunday's night game. A spokesman for the crew said he'd never had an umpire stop by.

"Those guys are the unsung heroes," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of the Wrigley Field crew.

They've kept things running smoothly while chief groundskeeper Roger Baird recovers from dehydration. He was hospitalized last week for treatment.

Wet and wild: Reliever Michael Wuertz picked up his first Major League save in Saturday's rain-shortened game, pitching two-thirds of an inning.

   Michael Wuertz  /   P
Born: 12/15/78
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"I'll take 'em any way you can get 'em," Wuertz said.

Teammate LaTroy Hawkins told Wuertz about his save after the game.

"Mike Remlinger put a ball underneath some water and said, 'Here's your game ball,'" Wuertz said.

Wuertz came on in relief of Greg Maddux, who said the mound was extremely slippery.

"It was a little slick," Wuertz said. "It wasn't too bad, actually. The ball was more slick than anything else. I got the last couple outs and we came out ahead. It's just good that Greg got a win and we came out on top of that game.

"It's always nice to have things like that happen," he said of the save. "It's always nice to get the first accomplishments out of the way."

First time: Speaking of firsts, Ordonez hit his first home run with the Cubs on Saturday. He was starting at shortstop so Ramon Martinez could switch to third base while Aramis Ramirez heals from a sore left groin.

Ordonez hasn't had much playing time and took a loss June 24 in St. Louis hard. He made an error and hit into a double play in that game, and was visibly upset in the clubhouse afterward.

"The last game in Houston, I got a couple hits and I felt better," Ordonez said. "And (Saturday), I got a couple hits and that made me feel better.

"Day by day, I hit a little bit more in batting practice, I take more pitches at the plate, so I feel a little better every day," he said.

The home run was the 12th of his career. Is he now a home run hitter?

"No way," Ordonez said, laughing. "I just try to hit the ball."

Ramirez, who could make the NL All-Star team if voted in by the fans on as part of the Final Vote, continued to receive treatment on Sunday. Baker said the third baseman was making progress.

"When (he'll be back), I'm not sure," Baker said. "But he's making fast improvement."

   Carlos Zambrano  /   P
Born: 06/01/81
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 255 lbs
Bats: S / Throws: R

Arms race: Kerry Wood is still on schedule to make a minor league rehab start Tuesday for Triple- A Iowa. If all goes well, Wood could start July 11 at St. Louis in the last game before the All-Star break.

Carlos Zambrano, named to the National League All-Star team Sunday, said he doesn't expect any repeat problems with cramps. He's drinking plenty of water.

Zambrano had to come out of his last start because of cramping caused by dehydration. He had the same problem last year in a couple starts.

"I will drink more water," Zambrano said. "I will drink anything that will help keep me hydrated."

Give pitching coach Larry Rothschild credit for Zambrano's development. The Cubs drafted the right-hander when he was 16 years old and when Rothschild began working with him at the age of 19, he saw plenty of potential in the right-hander.

"He's done a heck of a job and changed a lot for the better," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "He's a horse. At 23, he could be good for a long, long time."

   Moises Alou  /   RF
Born: 07/03/66
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

Party time: Moises Alou celebrated his 38th birthday Saturday night by hosting a party for his Cubs teammates.

"Everybody was there," Alou said. "I danced with about 15 of the players' wives. That tells you what kind of togetherness this team has."

Alou also was selected to the National League All-Star team, joining Zambrano and teammate Sammy Sosa who was voted onto the starting outfield. Alou said the party is a good sign of the chemistry the Cubs have. It's part of the reason for the team's success this year.

Alou thought this would be his last year in the big leagues. He is still bothered by the side injury and the calf injury that hindered him in 2002. But he's finally adjusted to day games and the Chicago cold weather.

"As long as we have Dusty here, I want to be part of it," he said.

Minor matters: Angel Guzman gave up two runs on four hits over four innings for Double-A West Tenn on Saturday. And, Ricky Gutierrez went 4-for-6 with a double and two RBIs for Triple-A Iowa Saturday, which beat Omaha, 4-3.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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