Notes: Field may need attention
Trachsel on track for rotation return, to start Thursday
CHICAGO -- The Cubs can't change Wrigley Field for the final games, but there is talk of redoing the playing surface, which is a little rough and has been criticized by other teams.
"They must have had a monster-truck rally out there," said Cincinnati outfielder Adam Dunn after the Reds series.
"The outfield is horrendous to play on -- the worst I've ever seen," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said after Friday's game. "It's not a Major League-caliber outfield. It's really bad."
Pirates outfielder Nate McLouth said "it looks like a dozen cows were grazing out there the past week."
The Cubs outfielders have noticed. If the team does reach the postseason, expect some re-sodding to be done.
"There are a lot of holes and sometimes when someone hits a ground ball, you have to be careful," said Chicago left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who is more concerned about the ball taking a strange bounce than injuring his ankle.
The last couple weeks, the ball has been very fast in the outfield. At the beginning of the season, it traveled slowly, Soriano said.
"Since they've had that concert [in July], it's been a little rough out there," Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. "There's nothing you can do about it."
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said they are looking into redoing the field.
"Some of it's part of what Wrigley is all about," Hendry said. "You have an old stadium, an old playing surface. It's just like you have a concrete wall behind the ivy -- if somebody got hurt, the next thing you know, somebody will want padding. We've got two games, and then we'll worry about the field in the offseason."
Hendry said the Cubs outfielders haven't said much to him about it.
"You've got to play the baseball games, and you play in the elements you're at," Hendry said. "It's no different than going in other stadiums -- things aren't always the same dimensions, the same wind, the same playing surfaces. It's part of the charm of Wrigley Field, too. We have a concrete wall, and nobody else does."
Told that the field may be fixed, Soriano smiled.
"If they can make it better, that's good," he said.
On track: Steve Trachsel was to throw a simulated game after Saturday's regularly scheduled game to get him ready for his next start, which will be Thursday against the Florida Marlins.
Since the Cubs went to a four-man rotation, Trachsel has been skipped and has not started since Sept. 13, when he went five innings against Houston.
Trachsel was to throw about 75-80 pitches Saturday. The Cubs wanted to wait until after the game just in case they needed him to pitch in relief.
Tickets: Individual game tickets for the Cubs' potential first two home games of the 2007 National League Division Series at Wrigley Field will go on sale Sunday at 9 a.m. CT. Dates and times of potential Division Series games are to be determined.
Tickets will not be available at Wrigley Field. Tickets will be available via the Internet on Cubs.com, beginning at 9 a.m. Tickets also will be available by phone through Tickets.com, beginning at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
Kids can play: Kevin Hart still hasn't taken the time to step off the mound and peek at the ballparks he's pitched in. Maybe it's just as well.
Hart has a 0.93 ERA in six games, giving up one run on five hits over 9 2/3 innings while striking out 11.
"The kid has come up and pitched with confidence, he's pitched with a level head, he's asked questions of other guys in the pen," veteran Scott Eyre said. "He's done a great job -- I could say good, but he's done a great job."
Hart, who began the season at Double-A Tennessee, pitched two innings on Friday and held the Pirates at bay.
"He throws a fastball that sinks and cuts, and you don't really know where it's going," rookie catcher Geovany Soto said. "It's effectively wild. It's just natural movement, and he's got a good idea of what he's doing. He pounds them with a fastball and breaking ball, too."
Does he know where it's going?
"Sometimes, no," Soto said.
The right-hander has taken the same approach in the big leagues as he did in the Minor Leagues.
"I just feel like no matter where you are, if you make pitches and think before you throw the ball, you'll have some success," he said.
"It's a lot of fun to be here," Hart said. "It's exciting every time you go out on the mound. You're pitching for something. This is what you've been working for your whole life."
Piniella was so impressed, he's already got Hart on his depth chart for 2008.
"He comes at you with a good variety of pitches, and he's all business out on the mound," Piniella said. "He's not backing off. Not only is he helping us win some baseball games, but he's cementing a spot for himself on next year's pitching staff."
Said Hart: "I'm worried about right now, trying to get to October."
Speaking of kids, Soto was behind the plate again Saturday.
"He had a tremendous year with the bat -- we didn't see the power coming, but that's part of the character of the young man," Hendry said. "He saw a window here. That's the good stories of your farm system and shows a lot of character of the kid."
Piniella said Jason Kendall hasn't been cast aside.
"He's not forgotten," Piniella said of the veteran. "It's just that this kid here against left-handed pitching has been very productive for us."
Leading off: Soriano has hit 10 leadoff homers this year, and 42 in his career. The 10 in 2007 rank fifth highest for a single season in Major League history; the record is 13, set by Soriano himself in 2003. Brady Anderson hit 12 in 1996, and Bobby Bonds and Jacque Jones each hit 11 in 1973 and 2002, respectfully.
Soriano's 42 career leadoff homers rank fourth all-time.
"It's a big lift for the starting pitcher to go out with a 1-0 lead," Aramis Ramirez said of Soriano's instant offense. "It's big for the team and big for everybody."
Extra bases: The win Friday was No. 1,600 for Piniella, moving him past Tommy Lasorda and into sole possession of 16th place in Major League history. Next up is Fred Clarke with 1,602 wins. "When my career is over, we'll look at the wins," Piniella said. "I'm not into that too much. But I know I passed Lasorda." ... Felix Pie subbed for Craig Monroe in center field Friday because Piniella wanted someone able to handle the strange wind at Wrigley Field. ... The Sept. 29 game at Cincinnati will start at 2:55 p.m. to accomodate a national television broadcast. The game will still be shown on WGN in Chicago.
On deck: Carlos Zambrano (16-13, 4.20 ERA) will close the Cubs' final regular-season homestand on Sunday, facing Pittsburgh's Tom Gorzelanny (14-8, 3.55 ERA). First pitch will be 1:20 p.m.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.