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Piniella: Edmonds need to start hitting
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/22/200 12:12 AM

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HOUSTON -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella gave a long pause Wednesday when asked about the hitting progress of center fielder Jim Edmonds.

"We need to see improvement with the bat; let's be perfectly honest," Piniella said. "He needs at-bats. We're going to give him as many as we can."

Edmonds, whom the Cubs signed May 14 after the Padres released him, entered Wednesday 2-for-12 before going 0-for-3 in Wednesday night's 5-3 loss to the Astros.

When the Cubs signed Edmonds, they demoted Felix Pie to Class AAA Iowa. Pie hit his first homer at Iowa Tuesday as he went 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base.

The Cubs are paying Edmonds only a pro-rated share of the major-league minimum salary, or about $285,000, so if it doesn't work out, they're not on the hook for much money.

Samardzija struggling: Cubs general manager Jim Hendry didn't seem overly concerned about another rough outing Tuesday by pitcher Jeff Samardzija for Class AA Tennessee.

Samardzija worked 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and 6 runs in an 8-4 loss to Mississippi. His record fell to 3-4 with a 6.14 ERA.

"Some of it might be just him trying too hard, working too hard in between starts," Hendry said. "He did so well for a while, and then he had one or two bad ones. I'm from the belief that we have to slow him down a little bit as far as maybe giving him a little rest.

"I think he's trying to do so well that he might be overdoing it a little bit."

Hendry said Samardzija would remain in Double-A. The Cubs took the former Notre Dame wide receiver in the fifth round of the 2006 draft and signed him to a major-league contract.

"When it doesn't go right, you just kind of throw it a little harder, just trying to do too good too fast," Hendry said. "When you have a guy like him, just like last year, he's capable of getting right back on track very shortly."

Hendry added some of Samardzija's struggles were part of the process of becoming a full-time baseball player.

Hurry it up: Jim Hendry and bench coach Alan Trammell took part in a conference call Wednesday with Major League Baseball.

MLB wanted to put out a reminder to keep the pace of games moving. Manager Lou Piniella said TV was the main culprit, because of commercials.

Hendry said the call was no big deal.

"Obviously, the pace of games is a concern to the commissioner's office," Hendry said. "The game times are going a little bit longer than last year. We've never been talked about it as far as a violation of any rules. I think it was more a reminder of that the rules that are in place, which they should be, would be enforced."