Notes: Two-spot second to none
Cubs attend wake for Floyd's father; Soriano to take BP
CHICAGO -- Derrek Lee may want to consider asking Cubs manager Lou Piniella if he can bat second in the lineup.
In the last eight games, the No. 2 hitter has batted .514 (18-for-35) with 15 RBIs. Lee is hitting .188 (6-for-32) in that same stretch and has struck out 11 times.
"They're having fun," Lee said of Jacque Jones, Mark DeRosa and Jason Kendall, who have slipped into that spot ahead of the first baseman. "They're having all the fun. I might ask [to hit there]. There are some hits in that two-hole. They're not only hitting the ball, they're driving the ball out of the park and driving in runs."
Lee joked that pitchers should be walking batters to face him. He's batting .230 in his last 16 games.
"That's D-Lee being D-Lee," DeRosa said Saturday. "D-Lee has to realize, and I know he does, that he has a reputation around the game of being one of the best hitters in the game, and he's got [Aramis Ramirez] following him up. If you're going to go after anyone in the lineup, you're going to go after the two hitter."
For the season, the Cubs' No. 2 hitter is batting .306 with 71 RBIs. That's more RBIs than the No. 3 hitter so far (58 for the year). Is it simply more fastballs?
"It's a confidence factor," DeRosa said. "You know they're not going to pitch around you. You know they're not going to work around you to get to Derrek Lee or Aramis Ramirez. It's just not going to happen. Other managers have too much respect, and other pitchers have too much respect for what they've done.
"As teammates, we see them on an everyday basis and understand how good they are, and therefore you go up there knowing you're going to get pitches to swing at," DeRosa said.
Piniella hasn't considered giving Lee a day off.
"He's such a presence in our lineup, and he does such a good job defensively at first base," Piniella said. "We need him to hit, obviously. When I get Cliff [Floyd] back, if we want to put [Daryle] Ward over there for a day, we can, but I'm sure [Lee] won't like it.
"He's going to hit," Piniella said of Lee. "Nobody's immune from getting in a little bit of a rut."
DeRosa was feeling better after receiving a cortisone shot in his right hip to ease some discomfort he felt back in late July. He got the shot after Thursday's game, when he collected a career-high five hits against Cincinnati.
"No time made sense until the off-day after the trip [Aug. 27], and I didn't want to wait," DeRosa said. "I was tired of playing in pain."
Family time: Several of the Cubs attended Saturday's wake for Floyd's father, Cornelius, who died last weekend.
"It was a nice service," catcher Koyie Hill said. "It was good to see Cliff, and I was proud to be there on his behalf."
The Cubs canceled batting practice so the players had time to go to the service.
"We're thinking of Cliff," Piniella said. "It's a tough day today for him, and it's been a tough week."
Floyd is on the bereavement list, but his time on that runs out Saturday. The Cubs need to make a move Sunday and can either reinstate Floyd or place him on the restricted list. If he is on the latter, he will not get paid, and the Cubs will have to play a man short. The team has to trim a player from the roster before Sunday's night game.
"When he gets here, he gets here," Piniella said. "He'll probably need a couple days working out just to get in shape."
Step by step: Alfonso Soriano will take batting practice on the field for the first time Sunday. Soriano, out with a strained quad, hit in the cage Saturday.
"Swinging is not a problem," Soriano said Saturday. "Running is the problem."
Soriano is not expected back until at least Sept. 1.
Extra bases: Ryan Dempster needed nine pitches to pick up his 18th save on Friday, and the club's first since July 24. ... Here's the breakdown on Carlos Zambrano's new contract. He'll be paid $15 million in 2008; $17.75 million in 2009; $17.85 million in 2010; $17.85 million in 2011; and $18 million in 2012. Zambrano signed the new deal Friday. ... The Cubs aren't expected to add many players when rosters expand Sept. 1. "Mainly, it will be people who can specifically help us," Piniella said. ... Catcher Henry Blanco is rehabbing at Triple-A Iowa and had two hits and one RBI on Friday.
Minor matters: J.R. Mathes gave up seven runs on nine hits over four innings in Iowa's 9-5 loss to Omaha on Friday. ... Justin Berg gave up one run on eight hits over seven innings in Double-A Tennessee's 2-1 win over Chattanooga. ... Jonathan Mota hit a two-out, two-run single in Class A Daytona's 6-4 loss to Palm Beach. ... Jeremy Papelbon gave up four runs on six hits over five innings in Class A Peoria's 6-4 loss to Cedar Rapids. ... Class A Boise took over first place in the East Division with a 3-2 win over Spokane.
On deck: Zambrano will take the mound Sunday night in the third of the Cubs' four-game series against the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.