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Hendry still trying to land outfielder
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/24/2008 10:44 PM

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MESA, Ariz. -- There was nothing under Cubs manager Lou Piniella's Christmas tree or in his Easter basket as far as a new player goes.

With less than a week before Opening Day, Piniella's boss is still looking to add a backup center fielder. Reed Johnson, released Sunday by the Toronto Blue Jays, remains the Cubs' top target, but other teams will be interested as well.

So it might end up that the Cubs go into the regular season with what they have.

"I feel like, for me, we can get by," said general manager Jim Hendry, who placed the onus on himself. "I would like, which I put on myself for a while, to add the outfielder if we could, an outfielder who can play at least part time in center.

"We have options if we don't because (Mark) DeRosa can go to the outfield, and Ronny (Cedeno). (Kosuke) Fukudome in a pinch can play center. I would feel better if we added somebody right-handed who can play center.

"I can only take the trade front to a certain limit to where if it's ridiculous I'm not going to do it just to get that extra piece."

Down to the wire: Lou Piniella says he'd like to finalize his roster before the Friday and Saturday games in Las Vegas against the Seattle Mariners.

The decisions are down to a left-handed reliever in the bullpen to replace Scott Eyre (elbow tightness) and a utility infielder. Carmen Pignatiello and Sean Marshall are the leading contenders to get the bullpen job for as long as Eyre is out.

Eyre was waiting to see team doctor Stephen Gryzlo on Monday afternoon, but he already has had an X-ray.

"They're both throwing the ball well this spring," Piniella said of Pignatiello and Marshall. "Pignatiello hasn't given up a run -- we're very cognizant of that. We're also cognizant of the fact that Marshall pitched really well for us last summer, and he had good success against left-handers.

"It's a determination that's going to have to be made rather quickly. I wish we had a little more time, but we don't, unfortunately."

Mike Fontenot, Ronny Cedeno and Alex Cintron are the three infielders vying for two spots, with Eric Patterson on "the outskirts," according to Piniella.

Cubs 7, Rangers 6

Cubs' record: 12-14-1

At the plate: Felix Pie had a big day, going 3-for-3 with a double, triple, sacrifice bunt, and 2 runs. Mark DeRosa crushed a 3-run homer to left in the first inning. It was DeRosa's first homer.

On the mound: No. 3 starter Ryan Dempster lasted 42/3 innings, giving up 8 hits and 4 runs. He walked three and struck out five. Jon Lieber, who will open in the bullpen, pitched 3 innings, allowing 1 hit and 2 runs. He allowed a 2-run homer to Adam Melhuse. Longshot bullpen lefty Les Walrond (2-1) earned the victory with a scoreless ninth.

Next: The Cubs travel to Scottsdale to play the Giants. Rich Hill pitches for the Cubs against Jonathan Sanchez.

-- Bruce Miles