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Injury shuffles Cubs' roster plans
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Kosuke Fukudome connects on a 3-run homer Wednesday against the Atlanta Braves.


John Starks | Staff Photographer

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Published: 6/12/2008 12:09 AM

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The Cubs had planned to bring up one player for this weekend's interleague series at Toronto.

With Alfonso Soriano going down Wednesday night with a broken left hand, their plans have changed big time.

Infielder-outfielder Micah Hoffpauir will come up today from Class AAA Iowa to take Soriano's place on the roster. The Cubs need another hitter for the American League parks coming up.

It's possible they could recall either outfielder Matt Murton or infielder-outfielder Eric Patterson from Iowa by Friday. Currently, the Cubs are carrying 13 pitchers.

Mark DeRosa moved from second base to left field Wednesday. Expect DeRosa to see significant time in left during Soriano's absence, which will be about six weeks or even longer.

Reed Johnson and Jim Edmonds have shared time in center, but Johnson has come in late in games for Soriano of late.

"That's why you keep yourself prepared, even when you're not playing every day," Johnson said. "You continue to work on your swing and continue to work on your defense because this game can grab people and take them to the disabled list sometimes. It's just something you've got to be prepared for."

When Soriano was on the disabled list in April with a calf injury, Johnson did most of the leadoff hitting.

"I'm physically OK to play every day," he said. "I keep myself in good shape in the weight room to where that shouldn't be a problem. I'll play anywhere.

"Everybody knows that's a comfortable spot for me in the order, in the leadoff spot. I've been hitting eighth a lot, which is becoming a little more comfortable for me. Wherever I play shouldn't change my approach or change any hitter's approach."

Hill struggles: The Cubs' brass hadn't had a chance to digest lefty Rich Hill's outing Wednesday for Class AAA Iowa, but it wasn't pretty.

Starting at Memphis, Hill worked 4 innings, giving up 3 hits and 4 runs, 3 earned. Hill did strike out six, but the big concern to the Cubs has to be the 6 walks he issued.

Iowa lost 5-2, with Hill also giving up a homer and hitting a batter. He threw 101 pitches, only 53 for strikes.

Hill was plagued by control problems all through spring training. He broke camp with the Cubs but was sent to Iowa on May 3 after lasting only two-thirds of an inning the previous night at St. Louis.

An 11-game winner last year, Hill figured prominently in the Cubs' plans for this year. Now, however, he looks to be a long way from returning.

Bats and balls: The Cubs said a fan hit by a foul ball Wednesday night was tended to and was OK.

Before the game, Cubs manager Lou Piniella was asked about the recent epidemic of bats breaking and exploding. Most observers feel the bats doing most of the shattering are made of maple.

"I don't really know that much about the maple bats," Piniella said. "When I played, bats would crack, but they wouldn't shatter.

"I think Major League Baseball should consider the fans more than anything else because that's where I think the serious injuries can happen. You watch the flight of the ball, and all of a sudden, you don't see half the bat coming at you, and it's a missile.

"That would be more of a concern than players on the field because players can react much easier. I'm not saying they can't get hurt, but I think the real danger is bats flying into the stands and causing some injuries there."

Piniella said he never used a maple bat. He used an ash bat.