It's been a miserable go lately for Geovany Soto, and now he's in danger of losing even more playing time to backup catcher Koyie Hill.
Soto went 0-for-4 in Sunday's 4-1 Cubs loss to the New York Mets. He is 1-for-11 on the current homestand. For the season, he's batting .212 with 9 homers, 31 RBI and a .318 on-base percentage. Last year, Soto won Rookie of the Year honors with 23 homers and 86 RBI.
"Yeah, I think we're going to catch Hill a lot more and go with Hill," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella. "It has been a struggle. I've tried to get him going."
Hill is batting .245 with 2 homers, 19 RBI and a .329 OBP. When Soto was on the disabled list for much of July and part of August, Hill caught 26 games in a row and performed creditably.
The pitchers like throwing to Hill, and the Cubs are 33-21 when he starts behind the plate.
"It's been fun, as many times as I've got to go out there," Hill said. "I go out there anytime he tells me to. It's always nice to know that your bosses, or boss, whatever you want to call it, supports you and likes what you do. It gives you all the confidence in the world to go out there and be the player that you are."
Taking his shot: Left fielder Alfonso Soriano took a cortisone shot in his left knee Sunday. An MRI Saturday revealed he has inflammation. Soriano could be back in the lineup Tuesday.
"Thank God nothing serious, but the doctor says there's a little inflammation in my knee, so I'll take maybe two days and come back and see how I feel," Soriano said.
Jake Fox will continue to start in left field when Soriano doesn't play, according to Lou Piniella.
"I like the offense Fox provides," Piniella said.
Hanging in there: Infielder Jeff Baker missed his second straight start Sunday, one day after being hit on the right pinkie with a grounder during batting practice. Baker was available to pinch hit. Mike Fontenot played second base and went 1-for-4. It's been a struggle for Fontenot, but he extended his hitting streak to four games.
"He's done a little better," Lou Piniella said. "He's been working hard with Von Joshua, our hitting coach, on a few things. The only way you can gauge improvement is by giving him some at-bats. He's done a nice job, to his credit, at second base. He's played very, very well.
"Usually, when you see a falloff at home plate, sometimes you see a falloff with the glove. He hasn't let it affect the defensive side of things. It's good to see. That's professional."