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03/23/10 6:58 PM ET

Ramirez shines in return to action

Cubs third baseman puts in 2-for-3 effort in DH role

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Lou Piniella may want Aramis Ramirez to get another 30 at-bats before Opening Day, but the Cubs' third baseman didn't look like he needed that many on Tuesday.

Ramirez was the designated hitter against the Royals and went 2-for-3 in his first game since March 13. He singled in his first two at-bats, driving in a run in the fourth.

"I felt pretty good out there today," Ramirez said.

He has been sidelined because of a sore right triceps muscle and is doing limited throwing. If all goes well, Ramirez will be starting at third on Friday. Piniella would like Ramirez to catch up to the others in terms of at-bats.

"I don't need 30 at-bats," Ramirez said. "Five more and I'll be ready to go. I haven't played in 11 days, 10 days, and I felt pretty good today. I don't need that many at-bats."

At the start of the day, Ramirez and Derrek Lee were the only regulars who did not have at least 20 at-bats. Marlon Byrd and Mike Fontenot already had 34 each. Maybe Ramirez doesn't need as many as other players?

"I think no matter how good a hitter you are, you do need a certain amount of at-bats in the spring," Piniella said. "I don't know how many he has to date but I would hope that between now and the end of Spring Training, we can get him another 30 at-bats or so."

Ramirez did have five at-bats in the Minor League camp. Piniella wasn't concerned the arm injury would be a hindrance. Ramirez did miss two months last season because of a separated shoulder but this is different.

"If this was the start of the season, he'd be playing today," Piniella said of Ramirez.

"Probably," Ramirez said. "Right now, I don't want to take a chance. I'll be ready."

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