CHICAGO -- Sam Fuld was about to take batting practice with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs for a game in Sacramento when he was told to head to the San Francisco airport to catch a red-eye flight to Chicago.
Fuld was surprised. Micah Hoffpauir was already en route to the airport because he thought he was being called up to the big league club after Derrek Lee was traded to the Braves.
"It did come as a surprise," Fuld said.
The Cubs added Fuld instead of Hoffpauir because of a technicality. Hoffpauir played for the Cubs last week in San Francisco, taking Lee's roster spot when he was put on the bereavement list. But because Hoffpauir hasn't been in the Minor Leagues for the minimum 10 days, he wasn't eligible to be recalled until Monday. If Lee was injured, then Hoffpauir could've been called up on Thursday.
Fuld was batting .266 in 97 games at Triple-A Iowa with four homers, 13 doubles and eight triples. He has 18 stolen bases.
"It's been kind of up and down, grinding it out [season]," Fuld said. "My numbers aren't pretty, but I've been getting on base. I haven't been as consistent as I have in the past. I've been doing the same things in the outfield, playing good defense."
Known for his daredevil catches, Fuld will be used in double switches and may get a start, Lou Piniella said.
Fuld was surprised to find his gear in Lee's locker at Wrigley Field.
"I"ve got some big shoes to fill," Fuld said of the prime location. "I didn't have any say in the matter. I'm not going to argue with it.
"[Lee has] obviously been a mainstay here. It's weird for me and I've only been here two hours."
Fuld can give a scouting report on Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg, a candidate to replace Piniella, who is retiring at the end of the season.
"He basically keeps it really simple," Fuld said. "Obviously, he demands a lot of respect based on who he is. You really get a sense of his work ethic there, and he's very consistent and has this amazing preparation and routine. His rules are simple: you play hard and you're on time. Other than that, he lets you play."
Cubs looking at Colvin to fill in at first
CHICAGO -- Tyler Colvin hasn't played first base since his sophomore year in college, and that was only part time. On Thursday, he was taking grounders there during batting practice, and may take over for the Cubs in the future now that Derrek Lee is gone.
Lee was traded to the Braves on Wednesday for three Minor League pitchers, leaving a huge hole in the Cubs' lineup and infield. Xavier Nady and Jeff Baker can handle the position for now but Colvin, a left-handed hitter, may get some time there in the final six weeks.
"He'll get some ground balls over there, and we'll do that for a couple days and see how he feels and how he does," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "If we can look at him over there, it gives the new people a head start on what the options are."
The "new people" would be the new manager and coaching staff for 2011. Piniella is retiring after this season.
Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell, who works with the infielders, only made a few suggestions during Colvin's workout Thursday, saying the athletic rookie looked comfortable.
How did Colvin feel?
"There's a big difference between taking ground balls off a fungo and taking line drives from Ryan Howard," he said. "That's what I have to get used to."
He used his first baseman's glove from college, which his grandfather had sent him earlier this year, as well as a new Wilson A2000 model he was trying to break in. Before batting practice, Colvin was asked if he had been secretly taking grounders at first just in case.
"At night," he said with a straight face. "We've been practicing at midnight with no lights, which makes it tougher."
At that point, none of the Cubs' coaching staff had said anything to him about a possible switch from the outfield. That changed in minutes.
"I was a little bit surprised, but I had enough people hinting toward it the last week or so," Colvin said. "I was a little surprised at the timing."
When Colvin did play the infield in college, he wasn't the everyday first baseman either. His best spot really is left field. That's Alfonso Soriano's space. Maybe Soriano could switch to first?
"Whoa," Soriano said Thursday. "Never. I didn't want to play second base, and I played second base for five years."
Nady is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his elbow and said he feels it on certain throws.
"I'll just keep plugging away and see how it goes," Nady said.
Lee made it look easy at first. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Lee will be back at Wrigley Field at first on Friday, when the Cubs and Braves open a three-game series. It will take more than a couple batting practice sessions before Colvin is ready to start a big league game at first. He's a key part of the Cubs' youth movement.
"I'll see how comfortable I am over there," he said. "I'll take grounders in batting practice the next few days and we'll go from there."
Aramis thinking about future with Cubs
CHICAGO -- The recent youth movement on the Cubs has Aramis Ramirez thinking about where he wants to play next season.
Ramirez has a player option in his contract for next season that would pay him $14.6 million.
"I'm planning to honor my contract," Ramirez said Thursday. "I signed here, I took less money to stay here. I don't want to go anywhere.
"But at the same time, I want to win. I'm 32. I'm not like [Starlin] Castro -- he has a lot of time in front of him. We'll see. We'll see how it goes."
This has been an off year for Ramirez, who was batting .227 with 17 homers and 56 RBIs. He's been bothered by a sprained left thumb, which he aggravated on a throw in the fifth inning Wednesday. He stayed in the game.
Ramirez is now the big bat in the Cubs' lineup following Derrek Lee's departure to the Braves via trade on Wednesday.
"It's sad to see a guy like that leave, and not only the kind of player he is but the kind of person he is," Ramirez said. "We've been teammates for seven years. He's going to move on and we have to move on."
The Cubs currently have 10 rookies on the 25-man roster. How long will it take for the team to get back on track?
"You've got to ask [general manager] Jim Hendry," Ramirez said. "I just play third. I don't know what kind of motive the ownership has. I don't know their plans, I don't know if they want to go young, I don't know if they're going to get veterans. They know which way they want to go."
Cubs making history with youth movement
CHICAGO -- The Cubs have used 15 rookies this season, and they made some history on Wednesday when six rookie pitchers appeared in one game.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time a team has ever done that in a game before the September callups, dating back to 1957, when Major League Baseball first defined a rookie player.
The six Cubs pitchers included starter Casey Coleman, who took the loss, and relievers James Russell, Justin Berg, Thomas Diamond, Andrew Cashner and Marcos Mateo.
The Cubs also had four rookie position players in at one point: outfielder Tyler Colvin, shortstop Starlin Castro, second baseman Darwin Barney and catcher Welington Castillo.
"You never anticipate using 10 rookies, not even in September, let alone August," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "It happened, and we have to give them a chance and stay positive and let them pitch and let them play and support them, and hope in the next six weeks they get better and they can help this organization, not only in the next six weeks, but in the future."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.