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Losses beginning to irritate Piniella
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/6/2008 12:19 AM

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Lou Piniella was pacing after Wednesday's 5-4 loss to the Diamondbacks.

"Zambrano and Hill both pitched well," Piniella said of starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano and lefty Rich Hill, who gave up only 1 run and 1 hit in 6 innings. "That was the positive of the day. The rest of it, I'm getting tired of losing ballgames, even in spring training."

Cubs relievers Ed Campusano and Tim Lahey gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in the bottom of the eighth as the Cubs blew a 4-1 lead. What got Piniella even hotter was that he had Carlos Marmol ready to work the bottom of the ninth, but that never came.

A walk by Campusano and an error by Casey McGehee led to the D'backs' rally.

"Bad baseball ensued in the eighth inning," Piniella said.

Piniella has said some relievers aren't helping themselves.

"They will soon; I'm not sure it's going to be here," he said.

There was more.

"I'm going to start scheduling the pitching a little bit, when they pitch, when they don't pitch," Piniella said. "I'm going to try to bunch up some good pitching together so we can hopefully win some baseball games."

Slow going: The injury timetables for Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez keep lengthening.

Lou Piniella said third baseman Ramirez probably would play Friday at home against the Mariners, not today against the Athletics, as had been hoped. Ramirez has not played this Cactus League season because of a sore right shoulder.

Left fielder Soriano was scheduled to throw from the outfield in Mesa on Wednesday. Soriano broke his right middle finger during flyball drills Sunday.

Piniella added that infielder-outfielder Daryle Ward (glute muscle) could play today and second baseman Mark DeRosa (heart procedure) is on track for the middle of next week.

With Soriano, the Cubs originally had hoped he'd be out only 3-5 days. That's proven to be overly optimistic, and it may well drag on into next week. He won't start hitting until the weekend.

Going the distance: Lou Piniella said he was surprised by the furor last fall when he pulled Carlos Zambrano from Game 1 of the division series against Arizona after only 85 pitches.

Piniella was saving Zambrano for a Game 4 that never took place because the D'backs swept the Cubs.

"We're going to let him go 3 innings today for sure. We're not going to pull him," Piniella joked Wednesday. "I wasn't stunned (by the reaction last fall). I was surprised. I never thought we'd get swept in the playoffs, OK? At the same time, the formula we went to worked all year. The final point, pitchers in postseason coming back on three days' rest, the success hasn't been good. So we wanted to shorten him up as much as possible."

Zambrano went 3 scoreless innings against Arizona on Wednesday and said he supports Piniella's decision.

"That's in the past," Zambrano said. "I still maintain he made the right decision. He's the manager. Sometimes you make one decision, and if everything's going well, it's a good decision. If something happens bad, it's the wrong decision."

More bullpen bits: Lou Piniella said Kerry Wood touched 98 mph on the radar gun in his 12-pitch, 1-2-3 inning Tuesday.

The Cubs still are being cautious with young righty Billy Petrick. Last week, Piniella said he didn't like the way the ball was coming out of Petrick's hand. Petrick has been bothered by shoulder problems in his career, and Piniella was asked if he's OK.

"Well, he's feeling OK, but he doesn't have much velocity, so there's no sense in rushing that," Piniella said. "He's coming off of injury. His chances of making this team aren't very good, regardless. So there's no sense in rushing him. Let's get him nice and strong where's got more arm strength.

"Then we can either pitch him a little bit or send him down and let him build some arm strength down there."

Cuts coming: Look for the first roster cuts of the spring to come sometime this weekend. Lou Piniella said the Cubs will have a meeting today or over the weekend to discuss cuts. Look for 8-10 players to go.

Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 4

Cubs' record: 2-5

At the plate: Pitcher Carlos Zambrano homered to right-center as did nonroster first baseman Micah Hoffpauir. Nonroster infielder Luis Figueroa homered.

On the mound: Carlos Zambrano threw 44 pitches, 26 strikes, in 3 shutout innings. He gave up 1 hit while walking one and striking out three. Rich Hill had mechanical problems as he walked three in the fourth inning. He gave up 1 run in 3 innings. Michael Wuertz made his spring debut, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning. Ed Campusano and Tim Lahey gave up the lead during a 4-run eighth.

Next: The Cubs play the Athletics in Phoenix. Jason Marquis pitches for the Cubs against Gio Gonzalez.

-- Bruce Miles