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06/23/08 3:23 PM ET

Samardzija promoted; Hill, Pie to Mesa

Right-hander has improved steadily, heads to Triple-A

CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija is moving up, while Felix Pie and Rich Hill are going to take a step back.

Samardzija, the former Notre Dame wide receiver who is in his second season in the Cubs' Minor League system, has been promoted to Triple-A Iowa and is scheduled to start Tuesday night at Albuquerque. He was 3-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) at Double-A Tennessee, striking out 44 over 76 innings. The right-hander has walked 42 and given up 71 hits.

In his most recent outing, on Thursday against Mobile, Samardzija gave up two earned runs on five hits and three walks over seven innings.

"His last five outings have been real good," Cubs player development director Oneri Fleita said.

In those five games, Samardzija has given up eight earned runs over 27 1/3 innings on 16 hits and 10 walks while striking out 16.

The Iowa team is a little shorthanded with Sean Marshall set to be promoted on Tuesday to replace Carlos Zambrano in the Cubs' rotation, and Hill being sent to Mesa, Ariz., for some extra tutoring.

Hill will work with Minor League pitching coach Rick Tronerud and pitching coordinator Mark Riggins. The left-hander, who opened the year in the Cubs' rotation but struggled to a 1-0 record and 4.12 ERA in five starts, was 2-4 with a 5.88 ERA in seven games at Iowa. In his last start against New Orleans, he gave up six runs on three hits and four walks and couldn't finish the first inning. He has walked 28 and given up 22 hits in 26 innings at Iowa.

Pie, who was batting .222 in 36 games at Iowa, also was headed to Mesa, Ariz., to undergo an MRI on his left hand, and will rehab there. Fleita said Pie either jammed his hand or injured it on an awkward swing and has been playing in pain for a few games.

"It's one of those freaky injuries you get in that soft spot between thumb and forefinger," Fleita said Monday.

Pie began the season with the big league team and was the starting center fielder for the Cubs on Opening Day. He hit .222 in 30 games, however, and was sent to Iowa to work on his hitting. Pie, who was batting .282 in June after .156 in May, will require some time off to calm down the injury, Fleita said.

Iowa pitcher Kevin Hart, who suffered a mild concussion when he was hit on the back of his head by a line drive on June 18, was to undergo a test Monday and could be available to start one of the games Friday or Saturday. The Minor League team was scheduled to play a doubleheader both days. Hart was injured in the third inning.

Right-hander Alex Maestri was to start at Class A Daytona on Monday, and he could move up to Tennessee if all goes well. If he does pitch at Double-A, it is believed that it would be the highest level an Italian-born player has ever reached.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.