Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: Summer 'Mutts'

Chicago Cubs at Atlanta Braves game rained out

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[August 13, 2008]  ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves got another day to recharge their slumping right fielders.

The scheduled game between the teams Tuesday night was postponed by rain and will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader Wednesday with start times of 1:10 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.

Atlanta rookie right-hander Charlie Morton is scheduled to face Jason Marquis in the opener. Chicago manager Lou Piniella moved his scheduled Tuesday night starter, right-hander Rich Harden, to Wednesday night's game against rookie Jorge Campillo.

Rain ended Braves batting practice at about 5:15 p.m., and the forecast for more wet weather led to the early decision to postpone the game.

The Braves' planned pregame tribute to their late broadcaster, Skip Caray, was rescheduled for Wednesday night. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke at a public memorial for Caray at Turner Field on Tuesday morning.


Atlanta manager Bobby Cox did not have right fielder Jeff Francoeur in his starting lineup for the second time in three games on Tuesday.

"He's going to work on some stuff tonight," Cox said.

Francoeur, hitting only .118 (4-for-34) in August and .226 overall, did not start Saturday at Arizona.

After the postponement, Cox said he planned to start Francoeur in Wednesday night's game.

Cox listed Gregor Blanco, batting .262, as his leadoff hitter and starting right fielder Tuesday. Omar Infante, hitting .304, was the scheduled starter in left.

Piniella, meanwhile, had right fielder Kosuke Fukudome in his lineup after indicating on Sunday the rookie needed to shake out of his slump to protect his starting job.

Fukudome has hit only .217 (30-for-138) in his last 39 games, dropping his average to .269 with eight homers and 42 RBIs.

"We need him to start hitting," Piniella said before Sunday's game.


Piniella's comments sparked speculation he might give Reed Johnson more playing time in the outfield or move Mark DeRosa from second base to the outfield to give infielder Mike Fontenot more playing time.

"I'm going to get them into the lineup, whether it's for Fukudome or anybody else," Piniella said Tuesday. "They need to play, too. They've done a nice job here."

But Piniella had Fukudome in his lineup Tuesday, batting second.

"We want this young man to hit," Piniella said. "We're pulling for him. I've never said I was disappointed. All I've said, basically, was that we'd like to see him start hitting. And it created a stir."

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Nursing Homes

Fukudome, an All-Star game starter, is batting only .107 (3-for-28) in August.

"He's a good player. He's a real good player," Piniella said. "To his credit, he's continued to hustle and he's played really well in right field. He's just in a little bit of a slump. Probably trying to do too much.

"He needs just to do the things that he's capable of, like he was earlier in the year. He's taking less pitches. He's not working the count the way he was earlier. He just needs to swing at more strikes."

Piniella said Tuesday if Fukudome's struggles continue, "you try to find somebody else that's swinging the bat."

"That's all I said," Piniella said. "It created a stir, and if that's the case, I'm sorry."

Meanwhile, Piniella said Kerry Wood might be only one appearance away from returning to the closer's role.

Health Care

Wood pitched a perfect inning against St. Louis on Sunday, his first outing since July 11. He came off the disabled list Aug. 5 after a blister on his right index finger healed, then was unavailable last Friday due to a sore back.

Piniella said he planned to give Wood one more appearance in a setup role.

"Kerry basically feels that he's ready," Piniella said. "And you know what? He probably is. But I think we give him one more ... and then we put him back into the closer's role."

[Associated Press; By CHARLES ODUM]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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