05/04/10 10:57 PM ET
One rehab stint down for Caridad
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Caridad is on the disabled list because of a strained right forearm that sidelined him on April 12. He rehabbed in Mesa, Ariz., at the Cubs' extended spring camp.
Caridad was expected to pitch Wednesday for Iowa, and the Cubs will make a decision then as to whether to activate the right-hander.
Three's a crowd, but Soriano's bat's a keeper
PITTSBURGH -- Xavier Nady started in right field on Tuesday night for the Cubs in the series opener against the Pirates and lefty Paul Maholm. It's been tough to get him at-bats because of how well the Cubs' other outfielders are doing.
Manager Lou Piniella is trying to rotate five players in three spots each game, choosing from Nady, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and rookie Tyler Colvin. Piniella said he tries to tell the players who is starting the day before a game.
"We communicate fairly well," Piniella said on Tuesday. "Sometimes the timing isn't right."
Has he had a few players lobby for more playing time?
"I've had a few players come in," Piniella said. "It's nice to visit. They want to play, what can I say? I find that positive."
Byrd and Fukudome are ranked in the top 10 in batting average in the National League at .354 and .342, respectively. Colvin was hitting .289 overall, but went 2-for-12 on the last homestand. Nady has the fewest at-bats of the five and was hitting .194.
Soriano has been hot after going 8-for-20 on the just-completed homestand. He hit four home runs and two doubles and drove in 10 runs, and on Tuesday, connected on his seventh of the season leading off the Chicago fourth. It's the first time in Soriano's career he's homered in four straight games.
"The four at-bats he had Sunday were the four best at-bats I've seen him have in one game since I can remember," Piniella said. "Not only did he hit the ball hard and hit the ball for power, but he laid off pitches, he worked the count. To me, how a hitter takes pitches is just as important as how he swings the bat. If he takes the pitches the right way, he's seeing the pitches well and he's in position to hit if needed to."
Soriano was 3-for-4 on Sunday, hitting two home runs and a double and driving in four. He also lined out hard his last at-bat in the sixth.
"To his credit, he's been working hard with our hitting coach [Rudy Jaramillo], and it's starting to pay nice dividends for Alfonso and the baseball team," Piniella said.
Zambrano's role not limited to setup duties
PITTSBURGH -- So far, the Carlos Zambrano experiment is working.
Zambrano's switch from the Cubs' rotation to the bullpen on April 22 has been smooth and the team is 8-4 since the move.
"It helps us in a lot of ways," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said on Tuesday. "First of all, Zambrano has done a nice job in the eighth inning. Every game he's pitched in, we've won."
Zambrano not only is the Cubs' primary setup pitcher, but he also could sub for closer Carlos Marmol if needed. Marmol threw 31 pitches Saturday and wasn't available Sunday. Reliever John Grabow got into a jam in the ninth against the D-backs and Zambrano was warming up to finish the game. He wasn't needed as Grabow escaped.
"[Having Zambrano in the 'pen] allows me to take a little more liberty with a few of my pitchers and how I use them," Piniella said. "I can pitch them a couple innings if need be to win a baseball game, and it allows me to bring my young pitchers along the way they should be brought along as opposed to throwing them into the fire of a 2-2 ballgame in the eighth inning.
"It's paid dividends in a lot of ways. I would think it would give our club a little more confidence."
And if Marmol isn't available?
"Sure, we'd use Zambrano to close," Piniella said.
Trammell remembers legendary Harwell
PITTSBURGH -- Alan Trammell played 20 years in Detroit and managed the Tigers from 2003-05. He never really had a chance to hear Ernie Harwell, but he knew the voice and the man.
Harwell died on Tuesday after a battle with cancer of the bile duct. He was 92.
"He'll be sorely missed," Trammell said. "A lot of people will be mourning, but he didn't want any of us to feel that way. A great life, 92 years old, and I think we all could hope we could live that long. He did it with class, with dignity. It's sad. We shed a tear tonight. He's a great man."
Trammell said he got a call earlier in the day to give him a heads-up that Harwell's condition was deteriorating quickly.
"What a gentleman, what a great person," Trammell said. "It's a sad day for baseball, not just for the people in Detroit or Michigan. He treated everybody with a quality that very few have -- everybody was the same, whether you're the president or somebody on the street. That's a quality not too many people have."
Trammell called Kirk Gibson on Tuesday to tell him that Harwell's health was failing. The three were together at an appearance in December and able to laugh a lot then and share memories.
"He was very sharp then," Trammell said. "I did hear of late that his health was declining and that he was ready. I think we all know where he's going."
Trammell has heard tapes of Harwell's broadcasts.
"What a voice," he said. "Any great announcer, the first thing that comes to mind is the voice and really painting a picture of the game. I'm a little older and remember growing up and listening to games on the radio. I don't think kids nowadays are as much in tune as we were. I grew up listening to games on the radio. Kirk, growing up in Michigan, [listening to] Ernie Harwell, going to bed with the transistor radio on, that kind of thing. Those are the good old days.
"Very sad. But that being said, I can speak for Ernie saying, he didn't want us to be sad. He's had a great life, and he has."
Silva on target for Friday start
PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs considered giving Carlos Silva a cortisone shot in his right wrist but determined he did not need one, so he will stay on his regular schedule and pitch on Friday.
If Silva had the shot, the Cubs were going to give him an extra day and he would've started Saturday in Cincinnati. Instead, he'll go on Friday against the Reds, followed by Tom Gorzelanny and Ryan Dempster.
Silva injured his wrist during a swing on April 21 in New York.
"It doesn't bother him when he throws, but it bothers him when he swings the bat," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said on Tuesday.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.