Notes: Barrett, Jones out of lineup
Skipper Piniella gives catcher, outfielder some time off
CHICAGO -- Neither Michael Barrett nor Jacque Jones were in the Cubs' lineup Thursday. Both were given mental health days.
Barrett missed his third game in the last four, but will be back behind the plate Friday and again on Sunday, manager Lou Piniella said.
The Cubs are 4-1 with catcher Koyie Hill. Barrett has been criticized in the media for his defensive play, and seen arguing in the dugout with pitcher Carlos Zambrano and also Rich Hill this month. The players have made up, but Barrett is getting a lot of negative attention.
"They've pitched good games with Barrett also," Piniella said of the Cubs pitchers. "Barrett has been getting beat up, and it's unfair in a way. He's caught some darn good games, too.
"When you start looking at a team, you don't look at one individual, you look at a team as a whole," Piniella said. "The manager is included in that. I know he's struggled some, but I don't like to see one player singled out. It's a team game; it's a team sport, and you win and lose as a team."
Jones was batting .233 overall, and .176 (6-for-34) in his last 11 games, with one home run and three RBIs. He hit just .205 in May. Jones also is batting .221 with 14 strikeouts with runners on base, which doesn't help.
With Matt Murton being sent to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, the outfield logjam has been eased. But Piniella said Cliff Floyd will start against right-handers, and Angel Pagan against left-handed pitchers for now.
"I'm trying to get him a little bit of a breather to see if we can get him going," Piniella said of Jones. "Sometimes, a few days to get the cobwebs out and relax, sometimes it's a better tonic and remedy than fighting your way through it."
Get well soon: Floyd was going to visit his father at the hospital after Thursday's game. C.C. Floyd remained in the intensive care unit.
His father's situation has prompted Floyd to take precautionary steps with his health, and get his blood pressure and cholesterol tested regularly. His father needed a kidney transplant at the age of 34. Cliff is 34 now.
"I'm doing precautionary stuff, because if it's meant to be here, I know what to expect, I know how to deal with it," Floyd said.
His family and others have helped him deal with his father's illness.
"My pastor gave me a great message about things being in your hands, and things not being in your hands," Floyd said. "I've been able to clear my mind and I can sleep better. My dad, he's a fighter. If he doesn't make it, it's not because of his fight."
Floyd missed three of the Cubs games in Atlanta to be with his father, and has a three-game road trip next week in Texas. It's perfect timing to be playing the White Sox next weekend -- it's a road series but he'll be home.
Day off: If the Cubs need a closer Thursday, it'll be Bob Howry. Ryan Dempster got the day off.
Dempster has pitched in the last four games, pitching one inning in each and picking up two saves in that stretch. On Wednesday against the Mariners, Dempster had a 1-2-3 ninth. In eight games this month, he's 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA with three saves.
"He threw the ball [Wednesday], as well as he's thrown all year," Piniella said.
Lukewarm: Alfonso Soriano has hot and cold streaks, and somehow the Cubs have to get him leveled off.
"Sometimes Alfonso tries to do too much and gets over-anxious and swings at the first pitch and doesn't get a good pitch to hit," Piniella said. "That has something to do with it more than anything.
"He's been streaky, and you can see what he can do for you when he's fully capable," Piniella said.
This month, Soriano is hitting .328 (19-for-58) with six home runs and 10 RBIs in 13 games.
"He's got his style, he's aggressive and he goes after it," Piniella said. "He can carry you big-time, and when he gets a little cold, he chases. The secret with him is keep him hotter for longer periods of time. Throughout his career, he's done that pretty well."
Extra bases: Aramis Ramirez played catch Thursday, the first time since he hurt his left knee. ... Some of the Cubs relievers got a bird's eye view of Wrigley Field before Thursday's game. They climbed to the top of the scoreboard. ... Daryle Ward (left hip strain) began a rehab assignment Thursday with Triple-A Iowa. Ward was expected to be the designated hitter, and play first base in a couple games over the weekend. He can be activated from the disabled list Tuesday, and the team is expected to get back to 12 pitchers at that time. They now have 13 with the addition Wednesday of lefty Clay Rapada. ... Piniella's office is very stark. "On this road trip, I'll have my wife come over and put a little personal touch," he said. It'll just be some family pictures, nothing more. He does have one request. "The only thing I want to get rid of is that bobblehead," he said of a less-than-flattering Piniella bobblehead doll. ... The Cardinals and Cubs will play their day/night doubleheader on Sept. 15, not Sept. 14 as previously announced. It's a makeup game for the April 29 game, which was postponed after the death of St. Louis pitcher Josh Hancock.
Minor matters: Neal Cotts gave up one run on five hits over 5 2/3 innings, but did not get a decision in Iowa's 4-3 win over Omaha. Geovany Soto hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth to tie the game, and his RBI single in the bottom of the 11th drove in the game-winning run. ... Justin Berg gave up two runs on nine hits over eight innings in Tennessee's 7-3 win over West Tenn. ... Daytona's game Wednesday was postponed because of thunderstorms. ... Matt Camp had three hits in Peoria's 6-3 loss to Burlington.
On deck: Left-hander Ted Lilly will open a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on Friday. Lilly lasted just 10 pitches in his last start Sunday against Atlanta before he was ejected. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on WGN.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.