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Soto proving Cubs right
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly delivers during the sixth inning against the Cincinnati Reds.


Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

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Published: 8/21/2008 12:22 AM

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The Cubs raised plenty of eyebrows last winter when they decided to give their No. 1 catching job to Geovany Soto, who had all of 30 games of major-league experience.

But Soto showed enough last September and in the short playoff series to convince the Cubs he was ready after 2 years at Class AAA Iowa.

"We took a took a good look at him in September, and then we played him in the postseason," manager Lou Piniella said Wednesday. "We had a pretty good feeling that he was going to be able to hit enough, hit for some reasonable power, and at the same time, (we) got an inkling that he took pride in handling a pitching staff. So, because of those factors, we said over the winter, 'This young man's our catcher.' And that's what we did.

"He came to spring training, and it was his job. We haven't looked back with it. It's been the right decision."

A half-dozen: Cubs general manager Jim Hendry reiterated Wednesday that the Cubs probably would recall only about a half-dozen players from the minor leagues when rosters expand in September.

Hendry said no decisions have been made. Figure on pitchers Angel Guzman, Kevin Hart and Michael Wuertz. Catcher Koyie Hill likely will be added to the 40-man roster to give the Cubs some added depth behind the plate.

Center fielder Felix Pie probably will get the call, as will infielder-outfielder Micah Hoffpauir, who entered Wednesday with 23 homers, a career-best and team-leading 88 RBI and an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentages) of 1.161.

Hoffpauir appeared in 19 games with the Cubs this year, picking up 14 hits, including 6 doubles. The Cubs now believe he has a chance to crack the 25-man roster out of spring training next year.

The other interesting player is Guzman, whom the Cubs said hit 96 mph on his fastball in his most recent rehab outing for Iowa.

Former No. 1 done? The Cubs said they've sent left-handed pitcher Mark Pawelek home. Pawelek, the Cubs' No. 1 pick in 2005, was at Class A Boise. Club officials said Pawelek did not acquire a passport in time for a team trip to Canada.

The 22-year-old Pawelek was drafted by the previous scouting administration, and his stock has been down with some in the organization for a while.

This and that: Aramis Ramirez had 1 of the Cubs' 3 hits Wednesday. Over his last eight games, he's batting .480 (12-for-25)... The Cubs have not homered for three straight home games, marking the first time that's happened since a three-game dry spell, July 31-Aug. 2, 2007... Jeff Samardzija extended his scoreless-innings streak to 11. Neal Cotts extended his to 5 innings... Mark DeRosa's RBI was his 72nd of the season, putting him 2 shy of his career best, set in 2006 while with Texas.