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Cubs need Cotts to come out of funk

Cubs need Cotts to come out of funk
Even though the St. Louis Cardinals were in the same boat, Cubs manager Lou Piniella looked at Sunday?s rainout as a break for his beleaguered bullpen.

The Cubs called the scheduled night game about 4:10 in the afternoon. The two teams will make it up as part of a day-night doubleheader Sunday, July 12, with the first game starting at 12:05 p.m. and the second at 7:05 p.m.

"Oh, no question, our bullpen could use a break," Piniella said.

One reliever Piniella wants to get going is Neal Cotts, who walked the only two batters he faced Saturday. For the season, Cotts is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA. In 2? innings pitched over seven games, Cotts has given up 4 hits while walking four, hitting one and striking out one.

"We need for Cotts to throw strikes," Piniella said. "We need for him to start getting some people out. He?s our only lefty in the bullpen. He?s certainly a lot better than what he?s pitched."

Cotts said he knows it, too.

"I felt comfortable coming out of spring," Cotts said. "I just haven?t done the job the first few times out there. I need to get back on stride and do my job."

Right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who worked out of the bullpen in the second half last year, started Saturday for Class AAA Iowa and pitched 6 innings, giving up 1 hit and 2 runs. He walked one and struck out five.

Piniella said he hadn?t talked with Cubs front-office people about Samardzija, who is supposed to start for a while at Iowa and develop his pitches.

Rotation plans: Lefty Ted Lilly was supposed to start Sunday, and he?ll be pushed to Wednesday against the Reds.

After today?s off-day, the Cubs will go with Rich Harden Tuesday followed by Lilly and Carlos Zambrano.

For next weekend?s series at St. Louis, the Cubs will throw Ryan Dempster on Friday, followed by Sean Marshall and Harden. Marshall will be available out of the bullpen the first two games against the Reds.

Lilly was ready to go Sunday despite battling a nasty cold.

"I don?t feel great, but I imagine that?s something a lot of guys go through during the season," Lilly said. "I was definitely looking forward to pitching tonight."

Bradley to play? Lou Piniella said there "was a good chance" right fielder Milton Bradley will play Tuesday. Bradley has not started since April 12, when he strained his right groin. He?s currently appealing a two-game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball for allegedly making contact with umpire Larry Vanover last Thursday.

The quotes: Cardinals manager Tony La Russa expressed surprise at the Cubs criticizing umpire Larry Vanover.

"Normally, you don?t get away with criticizing umpires like that," La Russa told the St. Louis media.

Lou Piniella had a rejoinder Sunday.

"Well, Tony?s not the commissioner," Piniella said. "He?s a good friend and a heck of a manager, but he?s not the commissioner of Baseball ? not yet, anyway."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 21, 2009

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