Notes: Pitchers preparing for Bonds
Team hoping to avoid record-setting trip by Giants slugger
CHICAGO -- Barry Bonds arrives at Wrigley Field for a four-game series on Monday, and the Cubs don't want the San Francisco Giants slugger making history at their expense.
Bonds is closing in on the all-time record for most career home runs, starting Friday with 751. The Cubs are scheduled to start Rich Hill, Sean Marshall, Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly in the four games, which means Bonds would have to face three left-handers.
He's connected off Marshall, hitting home run No. 728 last year off the Cubs lefty.
"I'm probably not going to throw him that same pitch again," Marshall said Friday. "Hopefully, we can just keep the games close, we win this series and the next series and keep him tamed.
"If he hits it, he hits it," Marshall said. "He's obviously a Hall of Famer. He's one of the best hitters in the history of the game. He's going to hit his homers. It's what he's done for 20 years. If he hits a homer, OK, as long as it's not a game-winning homer."
Will Ohman would likely get the call in relief if Cubs manager Lou Piniella needed a lefty to face Bonds, who is hitless in four at-bats against the Cubs southpaw.
"He's not just another guy, but it is another out to get," Ohman said. "To make it more than that would be putting undue pressure on myself, and that's unnecessary. It is what it is. It's a guy at the plate, and he's trying to get a hit, and it's my job not to let him do that."
Ohman does respect what Bonds has accomplished.
"He's the greatest hitter in the game," Ohman said. "He's the greatest hitter to ever play. What he's been able to do with a bat, what he's been able to do with his legs early in his career, with his glove, I don't think anybody over time will be able to take that away from him."
There is the cloud of suspicion around Bonds regarding steroid use.
"You still have to respect the fact that regardless of the outcome, you still have to hit the ball, and he's done that better than anyone," Ohman said. "How many good pitches does this guy get to see? Three? And sometimes he hits all three.
"I would not approch him any differently now than I did last year or I did five years ago," Ohman said.
Lefty reliever Scott Eyre was Bonds' teammate on the Giants from 2002-05, and he's seen a different side of the slugger. Eyre remembers one Sunday morning when he had gone to take a shower, and told his sons to stay put by his locker. When Eyre returned, his eldest, Caleb, who was 5 years old, was watching TV with Bonds.
"I said, 'Kid, come over here,' and Barry told me, 'Shut up, we're watching TV,'" Eyre said. "I thought that was the coolest thing. Caleb will never forget it. He was sitting there watching TV on Sunday morning. [Bonds] was always nice to my kids. There's good in everybody. I just don't think he likes the media."
Has baseball been fair to Bonds?
"I think some of [the criticism] is unfair because he's never failed anything," Eyre said. "There's false judgment. I'm not going to sit here and judge anybody, and neither should anyone else until it's time to do it, if there is time."
And Eyre is looking forward to facing Bonds, who has a single in his only at-bat against the lefty.
"I enjoy being out there when the game's on the line," Eyre said. "If you're out there thinking about being the next Al Downing [who gave up Hank Aaron's milestone homer], then you're going to be. You have to go out there and think positive. Facing the best in the game, or one of the most feared in the game, brings out the best in you."
And that single last year by Bonds off Eyre?
"I consider that a victory," Eyre said.
Getting close: If all goes well this weekend, Cubs closer Ryan Dempster will begin a brief Minor League rehab assignment next week.
Dempster, sidelined since June 23 with a strained left oblique, was to throw off a mound on Saturday in what Piniella described as a "modified" session. If he feels OK, he'll throw full speed on Sunday off the mound.
If he passes all the tests, he could begin a rehab session next week with one of the Minor League affiliates.
Piniella didn't expect Dempster to need more than one or two outings in the Minors.
"By the middle to the end of next week, if everything goes according to schedule, he'll be pitching for us," Piniella said Friday.
Did you know: When Piniella was the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, he ordered then-Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson to be intentionally walked five times on May 22, 1990. Dawson had come into the series vs. the Reds on a hot streak, going 8-for-16 with two home runs, two doubles, and 10 RBIs in four games against the Astros.
The Giants would prefer to have Bonds set the record at home in San Francisco. Maybe he'll miss the Chicago series?
"That wouldn't bother me one bit," Piniella said.
Extra bases: Before the game, the Cubs recalled catcher Geovany Soto and optioned outfielder Felix Pie to Triple-A Iowa. ... Jacque Jones will get the majority of playing time in center field. Jones is 3-for-8 in his last two games. ... Pitcher Wade Miller (right shoulder) and catcher Henry Blanco (herniated disk) both are close to going on rehab assignments. Blanco was scheduled to play at Triple-A Iowa, starting Monday. Piniella said he'd like to see Blanco get 25-30 at-bats. ... Marshall, Sean Gallagher, Koyie Hill and Rich Hill were playing Frisbee before batting practice. ... The Cubs' Aug. 5 game will be broadcast on ESPN, and start at 7:05 p.m. CT. There are two other time changes for July: Monday's game vs. San Francisco will start at 6:05 p.m. CT, and the July 30 game vs. Philadelphia also will start at 6:05 p.m. CT.
Minor matters: Rocky Cherry pitched one inning for Triple-A Iowa in a 4-3, 11-inning loss to Omaha. Eric Patterson led off the game with a solo homer and added an RBI single. ... Tyler Colvin hit an RBI single in Tennessee's 10-3 loss to Mobile. ... Ryan Harvey hit two home runs in Daytona's 8-4 win over Lakeland. Jesse Estrada gave up four runs on five hits over seven innings. ... Marco Carillo gave up three runs on five hits over five innings in Peoria's 8-5 loss to Quad Cities. Carillo did not get a decision. ... Andrew Rundle hit a 10th-inning walk-off homer in Boise's 14-13 win over Yakima.
On deck: Ted Lilly will start Game 2 of this three-game homestand against the Astros against All-Star Roy Oswalt. First pitch is scheduled for 2:55 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on FOX.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.