DeRosa deal elicits mixed feelings
Cubs happy for former teammate, not thrilled he's on rival
CHICAGO -- On the one hand, the Cubs players were happy to hear that Mark DeRosa was back in the National League Central. But he's playing for the wrong team.
"I think it [stinks]," Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot said of the deal that sent DeRosa from the Cleveland Indians to the St. Louis Cardinals for Chris Perez and a player to be named.
DeRosa played two seasons with the Cubs, and was one of the most versatile -- and some would say most valuable -- players on the team, which won two division titles those years.
But now he'll be playing for their Central rivals, who have a 3 1/2-game lead over the Cubs.
"He's going to the Cardinals," Theriot said Sunday. "What do you want me to say? 'It's good? I'm glad? I'm happy for him?' He's going to our division contender. I'm excited for him. I know what type of player he is and what he brings to a ballclub, so yeah, I don't want to see him in our division, much less the Cardinals. He'll help them. He'll help them tremendously."
The Cubs did talk to the Indians about possibly reacquiring DeRosa, who batted .289 in two seasons in Chicago and belted a career-high 21 homers last year. The asking price, however, was too high. The Cubs could've used him when Aramis Ramirez injured his shoulder May 8, and they've had four different replacements sub there.
Of all the teams, the last place the Cubs wanted DeRosa to go was St. Louis.
"You don't want the team you're chasing to get a player like that," Ramirez said.
"DeRosa's a good player, he's a good person, he's a good clubhouse guy," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "The Cardinals got themselves a good player."
DeRosa returned to Wrigley Field June 19-21 for an Interleague series between the Cubs and Indians, but he started only two of the three games after he injured his left hip slamming into the bullpen phone box trying to catch a ball.
DeRosa fans can mark July 10-12 on their calendars. That's when he'll be back at Wrigley with the Cardinals.
"We all know he was a huge part of our club, on and off the field, and St. Louis is fortunate to have him over there," Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly said. "He's going to help that team."
But Cubs fans can't be cheering a St. Louis player at Wrigley, can they?
"I think once the game starts and we get going, there will be a lot of cheers when Mark strikes out with men on second and the game on the line," Lilly said.
The lefty was smiling when he said that. DeRosa hit two home runs and a double off Lilly in a Spring Training game in Mesa, Ariz., this year. The two did not have a rematch when the Indians came to Chicago because DeRosa was out for Lilly's start.
The Cubs pitcher joked that with the wind blowing out at Wrigley, it's DeRosa's "dream date." Lilly hasn't tried to figure out if he'll be pitching when St. Louis comes to town.
"I was happy for him," Lilly said about the deal. "I think he was happy in Cleveland, but having an opportunity to play in this division and a chance to play against us on a very good team in St. Louis, I'm sure he's going to enjoy it."
With the Trade Deadline approaching July 31 and the Cubs looking up, do they need to make a move?
"That's Jim's [Hendry, general manager] department," Piniella said. "My job is to manage the baseball team and that's basically it. We need to get Ramirez back in the lineup. That would be almost like a trade for us."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.