08/17/10 8:59 PM ET
Soto likely to return on Sunday
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Soto, batting .288 with 15 homers and 45 RBIs, has not played since Aug. 6.
Carlos Silva, who underwent a procedure Aug. 9 to correct an abnormal heart rate, was to throw Wednesday on the side at Wrigley Field. The right-hander, who is 10-5 with a 3.92 ERA, could be scheduled for a rehab outing if all goes well.
First baseman Derrek Lee was expected back in the lineup Thursday after having an epidural injection in his lower back. Lee, who was batting .251 with 16 homers and 56 RBIs, came out of Sunday's game because of his back.
Reliever John Grabow was examined by team orthopedic specialist Stephen Gryzlo on Monday, and they were deciding whether to have surgery on his left knee. Grabow has been limited to 28 games because of a sprain.
Rookie relievers going through growing pains
CHICAGO -- James Russell has an edge over the other Cubs rookie relievers. When he gets in trouble, he has a good sounding board in his dad, former big league pitcher Jeff Russell.
James Russell is one of seven rookie pitchers on the Cubs' roster, and he's going through some growing pains. In 14 games in July, he compiled a 2.70 ERA. In seven games this month, he's given up six earned runs over seven innings in seven games and walked five for a 7.71 ERA. The lefty didn't walk a batter in July.
"We're kind of in a little funk and it's kind of getting blown up because all of us are having bad games together," Russell said Tuesday. "It's not that we're trying to go out and give up runs. It happens and there's nothing you can do about it."
On Monday against the Padres, Russell gave up two runs on two hits and one walk over one inning in a 9-5 loss.
"We know they're not experienced and we know we rushed a couple of them," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Tuesday of the rookies. "They are getting a wonderful opportunity here. Let's hope this learning curve and learning experience pays off for a few of them down the stretch."
Russell's father pitched from 1983-96 for the Reds, Rangers, Athletics, Red Sox, and Indians. But his son didn't phone home after Monday's outing.
"Yesterday, I was a little mad at myself, so I went home and kept to myself," the younger Russell said. "Sometimes I'll talk to my dad and figure it out. We'll figure it out."
The Cubs had counted on pitchers Angel Guzman, Jeff Gray, John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad for the bullpen this year. All four were injured, which meant the bullpen became young in a hurry.
"It's easy to bring one or two guys in your bullpen along, and it's a little more difficult when you have five of them there," Piniella said of the kids Russell, Andrew Cashner, Justin Berg, Marcos Mateo and Thomas Diamond. "Let's just hope they improve. I'm hoping they will. They're a bunch of good kids and work hard. It's a question of getting confidence."
Russell says they're just missing on little things.
"It's easy to point us out because we're young and it's always late in the game," he said. "It seems like it's always the inning where if we get a zero, we're still in the ballgame. I don't know what we do, I don't know if it's not hitting spots or don't focus in totally, and it comes back to bite us in the butt."
It's not fun. These pitchers have known nothing but success throughout their Minor League career.
"It [stinks]," Russell said, "but in the long run, it makes you better."
DeWitt not surprised by Padres' rise
CHICAGO -- Blake DeWitt has seen the Padres more than any of the other Cubs players this season, having played them in nine games with the Dodgers before he was traded to Chicago. He's not surprised at their turnaround season.
"The Padres are a tough team," the Cubs' second baseman said Tuesday. "They're doing all the little things right that requires you to win a ballgame. They run the bases hard, they're aggressive on the bases, they go first to third, they advance on balls in the dirt, they come up with timely hits.
"You can't say enough about their pitching and defense, and that's probably the main reason they're in first place," he said.
The Padres finished 75-87 last season -- 17 games back in the National League West. Entering Tuesday's game against the Cubs, they were 70-47 with a four-game lead. They rank first in the NL in pitching, have the third-best defense, but they rank 13th in batting average.
Look at the lineup and there's no Albert Pujols-type leading the team.
"After watching Adrian Gonzalez the last couple years, you rank him right up there with him," DeWitt said of the Padres' first baseman, who was batting .297 with 22 homers and 75 RBIs. "He's a special hitter. He's a good first baseman. Being on the West Coast, sometimes you don't get the recognition the other guys have gotten, but he definitely deserves to be in that category. He's a special player."
Caray statue to be moved closer to bleachers
CHICAGO -- Harry Caray is being moved to where he belongs.
The bronze statue of the legendary Cubs broadcaster, now positioned at the corner of Addison and Sheffield streets outside Wrigley Field, will be moved closer to the bleachers at Sheffield and Waveland Avenues.
Caray, who died in February 1998, often conducted his broadcasts from the sun-drenched bleachers.
The Cubs are finalizing details regarding a possible re-dedication ceremony for Caray's family, which would be held sometime during the next homestand that begins Aug. 30.
The Harry Caray statue was dedicated on April 10, 1998, outside Wrigley Field's Gate D.
The Cubs are making the move to make room for a new statue of Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams at Addison and Sheffield Streets, which will be unveiled Sept. 7. His statue was being sculpted by Lou Cella from the Rotblatt-Amrany Fine Art Studio, who also did Caray's statue as well as the Ernie Banks' bronze at the corner of Clark and Addison Streets, outside of Wrigley's main entrance.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.