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Columnist
In Lou, you do trusty
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/14/2008 12:04 AM

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On the one hand, there's Lou Piniella.

Sure, he may seem in a trance at times as bench coach Alan Trammell does the heavy lifting, but he comes alive when he sees something he likes - or doesn't - and he lets you know.

Just ask Kosuke Fukudome.

He's also keenly aware of what it takes to survive a long season, and he's not shy about letting GM Jim Hendry know when the roster needs adjusting.

He is, in other words, engaged when he believes it matters, though, clearly, chats with the media don't fall into that category.

On the other hand, there is your old friend Dusty Baker, Piniella's predecessor.

Baker slept through most of his time here in Chicago, rarely waking long enough to do anything except abuse a pitcher.

And, shockingly, he's at it again in Cincinnati.

You may remember the story of May 25, when the Reds dropped an 18-inning affair to San Diego.

In that contest, Baker was so concerned about Baker, so worried about his own record and proving he can win, that he brought back Aaron Harang - the team's ace the previous four years - on only two days' rest after 103 pitches and pitched him 4 more innings (63 pitches).

Hard to believe a few weeks later that Harang was on the disabled list with an arm problem.

Even worse, Baker didn't hesitate to throw youngster Edinson Volquez on May 25, but why not? The kid hadn't thrown a pitch for more than 24 hours.

Yeah, Volquez got one whole day off, and after tossing 92 pitches, Baker had him throw another 1 innings and 39 pitches.

Volquez, now 25, will be a superstar if he survives the Baker era, but after he was clobbered in an 8-1 loss to Milwaukee on Aug. 5, he had to be pushed back two days.

Baker was so concerned about a tired arm that when Volquez returned Tuesday, Baker allowed him to throw only 113 pitches against Pittsburgh.

Good thing Baker's not here to handle Rich Harden.

See, a manager who has more than his own interests in mind will sometimes be willing to lose a game - even by using a position player to pitch - in order to save a pitcher's arm and career, or sacrifice one game to win later in the season, maybe October.

So, yes, Piniella might appear a bit goofy at times, and, sure, he's sorry he hurt feelings if Fukudome's your favorite player.

And, OK, maybe we can debate the Carlos Zambrano decision in Game 1 vs. Arizona last fall.

But think of the arms of Chad Fox, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Aaron Harang and Edinson Volquez, to name just a few, and be thankful someone is minding the store.

Stirring it up

Jim Hendry only smiled when he heard of Lou Piniella's comments regarding Kosuke Fukudome, knowing Piniella's penchant for trying to motivate through the media.

"I'm still a believer is Kosuke,'' Hendry said. "He's still working hard and not taking it out in the field with him, and we're a much better team with him than we were without him.

"And let's not forget he's a rookie here and has had to go through a lot of adjustments on the field and off.

"I don't think he's out of gas. I'm confident he's going to start hitting and give us a heck of a September.''

Pitching glitch

No one can blame the White Sox for passing on Paul Byrd, especially in their homer-happy park, but you know the way these things work. If the Sox lose the wild card to the Red Sox by one, guess who's going to pitch that game?

Ivan Boldirev-ing

Buffalo Grove native and current Red Wing Brett Lebda is offering everyone a chance to view the Stanley Cup Aug. 21 from 3-5 p.m. at the Glenview Ice Center.

Lebda will sign autographs and anyone desiring a photo with the Cup can get one for a small donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, in honor of his sister, Amanda.

Just Murphy-ing

Greg Maddux, who's won his last three, is up to 26 walks for the year and 995 for his career, meaning he's not going to join Fergie Jenkins as the only retired pitchers with 3,000 strikeouts and fewer than 1,000 walks.

Flipping out

Alicia Sacramone is probably going to feel bad forever about her slips on beam and floor, and we'll feel bad for her, but she should know the U.S. wasn't going to get the gold no matter what the team did.

Between the underage Chinese girls, some having just lost baby teeth, and the judges' decisions, that medal was gone before Team USA got off the plane.

Age-old question

Sure, the Chinese gymnasts have passports proving their ages. That's proof, just ask Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada and Jose Contreras.

The line

You needed to see about one element scored to know the Chinese men and women were winning Olympic team gold. Who's in charge of those gymnastics judges, the NBA referees union?

Best headline

Sportspickle.com: "LeBron James considering $500 million offer to play on the moon.''

And finally -

David Thomas of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, on Beijing's time zone: "If I have it figured correctly, when it's noon here, it's 1 a.m. tomorrow at the Olympics, and sometime last night on NBC."

brozner@dailyherald.com