Hendry not expecting big makeover
GM says club will not likely carry 13 pitchers
CINCINNATI -- Lou Piniella predicted changes were coming, but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said he didn't anticipate a major makeover.
"Obviously, we try to win every ballgame, but we felt we had guys on the bench who could play, and I think Lou is doing what he always does, and that is to use the people who are playing well," Hendry said Wednesday. "He'll mix and match. Guys are getting playing time who deserve it."
One of those players is infielder Ronny Cedeno, who started Tuesday and Wednesday in place of Mark DeRosa, who was 1-for-12 on the road trip. DeRosa had been subbing at third for Aramis Ramirez and in left for Alfonso Soriano, and Hendry said he was "running on fumes." This way, DeRosa will get three days off, including Thursday's off-day.
One change that will happen is the addition of left-handed reliever Scott Eyre, expected to be activated from the disabled list on Saturday. Eyre, slowed at the end of spring with a strained left elbow, was to pitch in relief Wednesday night for Triple-A Iowa, and if all goes well, would join the team on Saturday.
Piniella said he was considering 13 pitchers, but Hendry said that's not likely to happen.
The defense has been shaky at times and, Hendry said, overall it's better than last year. No one could've predicted that Gold Glove first baseman Derrek Lee would lead the team with five errors.
"Derrek makes an error [Tuesday night], and the next hitter, he makes a great play that probably nobody in the National League makes," Hendry said. "The day I start worrying about Derrek Lee's defense, we're really in trouble."
The outfield defense has improved with the addition of Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson and Felix Pie.
"We've had some days where [mistakes are] going to happen," Hendry said. "Everybody has bad games. We went through a stretch that none of us like to see. Overall, I think we have a good defensive team with good defensive players."
Pie seems to be making the changes at the plate that the Cubs have suggested. He was 4-for-11 on this road trip, and batting .321 in his last 11 games.
"He's doing fine, and getting a hit here or there which isn't easy to do when you're up there thinking every at-bat you have to do something well," Hendry said of the young center fielder. "It's been a good combination with him and Reed."
There also is the ongoing debate regarding whether Alfonso Soriano should stay in the leadoff spot.
"When things don't go right, or somebody has a bad batting average for the first couple weeks or a low on-base perentage, that's the flavor of the month to talk about," Hendry said. "[Tuesday], he started to swing the bat well. Some guys are slow starters and he's one of them. There's no reason to think he won't get better and better. Once he starts hitting like that he usually doesn't regress.
"Lou has to write the lineup, and I have no problem with [Soriano] hitting one," Hendry said. "I think in the next couple weeks, as he gets more confidence in his leg, he'll start running a little better."
Hendry was disappointed that Rich Hill didn't get off to a better start, but the Cubs do have depth with Jon Lieber, Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher. Hill made his first start at Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday, and gave up two runs on seven hits over five innings, striking out five.
On the plus side, Carlos Zambrano has gotten off to a good start and Ryan Dempster has shown that you can go home again and be a starter after three years as the closer.
The trading deadline is months away, but Cubs chairman Crane Kenney has indicated the parent company will back Hendry if he feels the need to add players. Does he think some tweaking will be in order?
"It depends not only on the standings, but how certain people are holding up health-wise and how certain people are playing," Hendry said. "You've played enough games now that things start to take shape. As the next 30, 60 games go by, you start seeing some of the things that have been not perfect -- are they going to get better? Is this guy going to pick it up a little bit? It's an on-the-job thing."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.