CHICAGO -- Ryan Theriot said Tuesday that he didn't have any expectations as to how he'd be received by Cubs fans, but he at least had some hopes.

Theriot, who played more than 600 games as a Cub over six seasons, returned to Wrigley Field as a visitor for the first time on Tuesday. He stood by earlier comments that he's now on the "right side" of the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry, though he also expressed bemusement at how big a deal that comment became. Mostly, though, he reminisced fondly about his time in Chicago.

"All that stuff comes back," he said. "You remember your first game here. I remember walking out of that dugout and looking up and seeing all the fans and everything, first Major League game. Oh yeah. You remember all that stuff. A lot of great memories here for me. Two division titles."

As for the "right side" comment, which he made over the winter, Theriot made it clear he didn't think it was such a big deal.

"To me, man, that's just so incredibly blown out of proportion it's ridiculous," he said. "It's the team you play for. I'm a Cardinal. I was a Cub and now I'm a Cardinal. I love St. Louis and I love the Cardinals."

Theriot was loudly but not viciously booed upon coming to bat in the first inning, not the outcome he was hoping for.

"I would hope that they would give a good reception," he said before the game. "Blood, sweat and tears at this place for five years, and the Minor Leagues coming up, starting in '01. I've said this a million times: These fans here understand baseball and they appreciate effort and all that stuff. And that's one of the reasons I loved Chicago."

Soto to undergo MRI on left groin strain

CHICAGO -- Cubs catcher Geovany Soto on Wednesday will undergo an MRI on a strained left groin suffered in the first inning of Tuesday night's 6-4 loss to the Cardinals.

Soto apparently was hurt during Matt Holliday's at-bat in the Cardinals' first. The Cubs catcher came up limping after a foul ball by Holliday. Soto was lifted for pinch-hitter Koyie Hill in the Chicago first.

"He did the splits to block a ball in the first inning, and the splits were not good," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "We need to be careful with this."

Soto has started 30 of 33 games and is batting .226 this season with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Catcher Welington Castillo was pulled from the Triple-A Iowa lineup Tuesday and may be headed for Chicago for the Cubs' game Wednesday night as insurance. Soto is expected to be sidelined for a few days.

In prolonged slump, Castro bats No. 7

CHICAGO -- Starlin Castro was in the No. 7 spot in the Cubs' lineup Tuesday, the lowest he's been in the order since the season began.

Heading into the game against the Cardinals, which the Cubs lost, 6-4, the shortstop was battling a 2-for-25 skid in his last six games -- but he went 2-for-4 with a clutch, game-tying RBI single in the seventh inning. He's hitting .306 overall but is at .164 (9-for-55) in his last 13 games. Castro batted .393 in his first 20 games of the year.

"We're protecting the kid and trying to help the club and trying to get him out of a bit of a mess," Cubs manager Mike Quade said of the lineup switch. "It seemed appropriate to me. That's just what we do."

Quade wasn't concerned after four, five games, but Castro hasn't been able to get back on track for more than a week.

"It makes perfect sense to me that he came out of Spring Training and got pitches to hit and did all sorts of damage, and pitchers in this league have made it tougher on him and have adjusted," Quade said. "It's imperative that he start working to get out of that."

Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has worked with Castro, but Quade said it's up to the player to make the adjustment.

Castro has fared better in the leadoff spot. In 13 games batting first, he's hitting .424. In 10 games batting second, he's hitting .256 and in nine games in the three-hole, he's hitting .158. Quade defended the decision to move Castro to the third spot.

"It was the right thing to do at the time," he said. "I like the approach. I don't see anything different with the approach. I see a different way that the opposition is attacking him."

Castro, 21, hasn't complained about the switch. He still ranks among the National League's top hitters in fewest strikeouts per plate appearance this season.

"He's handled it about as good as you can handle it," Quade said. "Now we have to get him back to where he's contributing on a regular basis with the bat. I don't see him hanging his head. I see him believing that he's going to get it done, and that's what you want. If he continues to work the way he does and listens to people who can help him ... I think he'll get back on track."

Cashner, Wells throwing to hitters this week

CHICAGO -- Cubs pitchers Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells, both on the disabled list, threw two innings each of live batting practice on Monday in Mesa, Ariz., at the team's extended spring training complex.

Wells, sidelined with a strained right forearm, will pitch in an extended spring game on Thursday in Mesa. Cashner, out with a strained right rotator cuff, will have another live batting practice session Thursday.

There is no timetable for their return, but both are expected to make at least one Minor League rehab start, if not more, before they are activated.

Casey Coleman (1-2, 6.29 ERA) is filling one of the vacancies, and the Cubs need a fifth starter on Saturday against the Giants. Cubs manager Mike Quade said he will announce on Wednesday whether they will go with James Russell, who is 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA in four starts.

Levee flooding hits home for DeWitt

CHICAGO -- Blake DeWitt had seen the television coverage and photos from friends of the flooding near his home in Sikeston, Mo., created by the demolition of the Mississippi River levee. On Monday, he got a first-hand look.

"Driving around the levee, it's a sad sight," the Cubs infielder said Tuesday after spending the off-day back home. "I knew it was bad before I went but actually going and seeing it, it was pretty amazing how much water is in that area.

"You couldn't get close enough to where they blew [the levee], but with binoculars it looked like water was still coming in there. It's a lot of water."

The demolition was done to open a breach in the Birds Point levee and relieve some of the pressure caused by spring rains that threatened the southern Illinois town of Cairo. By opening the levee, more than 130,000 acres of Missouri farmland are now under water. DeWitt's home and family are fine and were not damaged. But he's gotten photos from friends, including one who now has a duck blind in 32 feet of water.

"It's a mess," DeWitt said. "It's going to be a mess for a long time."

Every year, residents of the area have to deal with some water issues, but nothing like this.

"You're used to some spring flooding," DeWitt said. "Every spring, you'll have some water levels rise, but nobody has ever seen this. This is historic and hopefully it never happens again. It was something to see," he said.

Dominican Cubs, Cards players honored

CHICAGO -- Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Gisselle Castillo-Veremis, the consul general of the Dominican Republic, honored Cubs and Cardinals players from the Dominican in a pregame ceremony Tuesday.

Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol, Marcos Mateo, Carlos Peña, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano and the Cardinals' Albert Pujols and Miguel Batista were presented a special recognition award on behalf of the president of the Dominican Republic.

The Cubs have expanded their commitment to the Caribbean island. They are in the process of finalizing details for a new academy there. Chicago Cubs Charities donated more than $40,000 to the Dominican in the last year. The money was designated to fund a rural health care program and doctor visits to communities to identify patients at risk for diabetes, to expand a surgical center recovery room, and to construct a new facility at a local school.

The first Dominican-born Cubs player was Roberto Pena, who was the team's Opening Day shortstop in 1965. Pena played in 57 games for the Cubs (1965-66), 55 of those games at shortstop. The Cubs' first Dominican-born pitcher was Jose Nunez in 1990.

Carlos Pena is the 46th Dominican player to appear in a Major League game with the Cubs. Of those 46, Sammy Sosa played the longest at 13 years. Ramirez (nine seasons), Marmol (six seasons) and Soriano (five seasons) are next on the seniority list.

At least one Dominican-born player has played for the Cubs every season since 1989. Last year, there were seven with Soriano, Castro, Ramirez, Marmol, Mateo, Esmailin Caridad and Welington Castillo. Seven Dominican-born players also played for the Cubs in 1997.