CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Mike Quade was the skipper at Triple-A Iowa when Dusty Baker was in charge of the big league team in 2003.
"So much of my time with Dusty was spent when I was in Iowa, but the way I was treated is something I'll never forget," Quade said Friday as his team prepared for a National League Central showdown between his Cubs and Baker's Reds.
Quade joined the Cubs for the last month of the 2003 season when the Minor League campaign had ended, and he was with the team when it clinched the Central. He figured once the playoffs started, he was headed home, but Baker wanted Quade to stay.
"[Baker] said, 'No, you're going to the playoffs with us,'" Quade said. "I said, 'You take your best 25 [players], your staff who has been working all year, and get rid of us idiots and go play.' He was having none of that.
"I was almost embarrassed and flattered that he wanted me around," Quade said. "The guy's obviously been a very good manager for a long time."
Aramis looking for boost with runners on base
CHICAGO -- As a team, the Cubs finished their game on Friday second in the National League with a .269 batting average. But they were hitting .215 with runners in scoring position, second worst in the league. Aramis Ramirez is the perfect embodiment of the club's struggles with men on.
The Cubs' third baseman is hitting .281 overall but .226 with RISP. He's 1-for-11 with RISP and two outs. But manager Mike Quade doesn't want Ramirez to force things.
"Your natural approach has got to take over," Quade said Friday. "It's what you've been doing your whole life and career. If you're a guy like 'Ramy,' you have to believe it'll work for you."
Ramirez has not batted anywhere other than the No. 4 hole this season. He has a career .299 average with RISP, so Quade isn't worried. He's juggled other players in the lineup but will leave Ramirez there.
"I know we've been struggling with guys in scoring position," he said, "but there are a lot of guys in that boat, and they're working like heck to get out of it."
Cubs still trying to sort out fifth-starter spot
CHICAGO -- James Russell was back in the bullpen on Friday for the Cubs, and the team was still trying to sort out its options for the vacant fifth-starter spot.
The Cubs don't need a fifth starter until May 14 when they play host to the Giants. Russell has subbed in that rotation slot since Andrew Cashner was sidelined with a strained right rotator cuff. He is 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA in four starts. In the lefty's last outing on Thursday, he went a season-high 4 2/3 innings.
Cashner and Randy Wells, sidelined with a strained right forearm, both threw side sessions in Mesa, Ariz., as part of their rehab. The next step will be for them to face hitters in batting practice at extended spring camp.
The Cubs did sign left-hander Doug Davis to a Minor League contract, and he made his first start Thursday for Class A Daytona. Davis threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out seven. His next start will be for Triple-A Iowa, but he was also not expected to be ready by May 14.
Davis was 1-4 with a 7.51 ERA in eight starts for the Brewers last season.
Ramon Ortiz, 38, is 1-1 with a 3.45 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Iowa. In his last outing on Tuesday, he gave up one run on four hits over seven innings and struck out five.
The right-hander is 85-82 in his career with a 4.93 ERA and last year appeared in 16 games (two starts) for the Dodgers, going 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA.
Wood marks 13th anniversary of 20-K game
CHICAGO -- Thirteen years ago, Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters in his fifth Major League start. On Friday, the right-hander fanned one in 1 2/3 innings of relief.
Wood, 33, is back with the Cubs after two seasons in the American League. He pitched for the Indians in 2009, and the Indians and Yankees in '10. He's no longer a starter, giving up that role in 2007 because of arm problems.
A free agent, Wood wanted to return to Chicago this season and gave the Cubs a hometown discount, signing for $1.5 million. He's now the primary right-handed setup man.
On May 6, 1998, he was a 20-year-old rookie making the fifth start of his career and facing the Astros. He held them to one hit and fanned 20 to tie a Major League record for a nine-inning game set by Boston's Roger Clemens (April 29, 1986, and Sept. 18, 1996), and set the mark for most Ks by a rookie.
So far this season, Wood -- who picked up the nickname "Kid K" -- has struck out 11 over 12 innings in 12 games, giving up two earned runs for a 1.50 ERA.
Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena may not have the offensive numbers he'd like but he's contributed in many other ways. "He's been our most valuable guy defensively to me, by far," manager Mike Quade said of the first baseman. "He's a walks guy, a home run guy, not a big average guy. ... What we saw the other day [in Los Angeles], we're going to get that. He's still dropping a bunt down and doing things to help us win." What Pena did against the Dodgers was hit home runs in back to back games, his first and second of the season. On Friday, he matched his career high with three walks.
Marlon Byrd extended his hitting streak to eight games with two hits Friday. He's batting .367 in that stretch and is one game shy of matching his season-high nine-game streak, done April 3-12.
Cubs TV analyst Bob Brenly will skip the upcoming trip to Boston so he can watch his son Michael play for Class A Daytona. Bill Buckner will sub for Brenly on May 20.
Catcher Max Ramirez, whom the Cubs claimed on waivers from the Red Sox in January, was released by Triple-A Iowa on Friday. Ramirez hit .235 (8-for-34) with one home run and five RBIs in 11 games.
In-stadium All-Star balloting began Friday at Wrigley Field.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.