When Rich Harden returned from the disabled list this weekend, the Chicago Cubs sent down an infielder, despite the fact that the team already had 12 pitchers (more than the typical 11).
Well, it wasn’t a completely temporary thing. Lou Piniella says it’s going to stay that way for a little while.
”The big reason is all the extra innings we’ve had with our pitching, and a couple of them have a little tenderness,” manager Lou Piniella said, declining to specify who’s sore. ”We’re giving ourselves a little protection. But I don’t know how long we can stay this way.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
How long, indeed. Hopefully it will only be until Ryan Freel returns from the disabled list later this week. Four extra position players – that’s all the Cubs have right now. Which is just crazy to me. Particularly when you consider there are a few of those 13 pitchers that Lou is loathe to use anyway.
With so many pitchers, the Cubs risk running out of position players to pinch-hit or make double switches. Piniella admitted the plan is to use Carlos Zambrano if there’s a need for a pinch hitter early in a game. That role isn’t new for Zambrano (.233, two home runs, three RBI), one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers and the organization’s all-time leader in home runs by a pitcher.
But Piniella admitted he’ll have to be careful with his bench, which is limited to infielder Andres Blanco when Aaron Miles starts at second, one catcher in Geovany Soto or Koyie Hill and two outfielders in Micah Hoffpauir — who also can play first — and Reed Johnson.
”We could run out of players,” Piniella said. ”I have to be very careful.”
Especially with the offense sputtering and the pitching dominating – that can create a lot of extra inning games, ironically the stated cause of this 13 pitcher issue in the first place.
Piniella admitted he never has managed with 13 pitchers and said it’s unlikely the team can stay with this roster for long.
”I don’t think so,” he said. ”It’s not easy, but with the extra-inning games we’ve had and the other situation [with some tender arms], we felt this would be the thing to do.”
As I said, hopefully the end will come later this week when Ryan Freel returns and one of the optionable relievers is sent down.