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Soto's injury leaves Cubs short-handed
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 4/10/2009 10:34 PM

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MILWAUKEE - Geovany Soto didn't seem overly worried Friday about his right shoulder, but manager Lou Piniella sounded concerned about a possible lack of catching depth.

Soto's MRI Thursday turned up nothing more than irritation and inflammation, but that will be enough to keep him out of most, if not all, of the series against the Brewers. "If it's too long, we can't continue to carry one catcher," said Piniella, who added that Soto is unlikely to play today and "wouldn't bet on" him playing Sunday either.

Koyie Hill is the backup catcher, and he homered in Friday's 4-3 loss to the Brewers. Infielder Aaron Miles could fill in behind the plate in an emergency.

If Soto had to go on the disabled list, the Cubs could bring veteran Mark Johnson up from Class AAA Iowa.

Soto is not taking batting practice. As of Friday, he was doing shoulder exercises and working on his conditioning. He's also taking medication for the shoulder.

"It's a matter of staying on top of it and seeing where we're at," he said. "My body is saying, 'You need to stay on top of whatever you're doing.' I'm still doing it. I'm not going to get careless in that aspect."

Harden fires away: Starting pitcher Rich Harden reached 96 mph with his fastball Friday, according to the Miller Park scoreboard. Harden struck out 10 making it his eighth career double-digit strikeout game.

"I felt good out there," said Harden, who has had a history of shoulder problems. "I wanted to bring some more intensity out there to start the season and get that extra little bit of adrenaline when it means something. Overall, it felt good, but it was a tough finish."

Zero tolerance: Lou Piniella had little patience with a radio reporter's question after the game. Piniella was asked if he thought about walking Corey Hart intentionally in the ninth inning of a tie game with Rickie Weeks on second base and Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder coming up. Hart wound up walking anyway after a wild pitch.

"What are you talking about, walking Hart?" Piniella shot back. "I don't even know what you're talking about. To face Braun and Fielder? You manage that way, you'll be fired about a month into the season."

Quick bit: Milton Bradley snapped a season-starting 0-for-10 streak with a homer in the fourth. It was his 400th career RBI.