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gods-wrathBarely one year ago, when Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez dove on a grounder to third, landed awkwardly, and rolled around in pain, we were all absolutely terrified – is he seriously hurt? is he going to the disabled list? how long will he be out?

Now, the questions are very different. Why is Ramirez playing? Why is he batting fourth? When it he going to the disabled list?

Finally, an answer to at least one of them.

The longtime cleanup hitter, who has battled a deep bruise near the base of his left thumb for more than a month, is expected to go on the 15-day disabled list today.

Chad Tracy, who has been hitting well since a demotion to Class AAA Iowa on May 7, is expected to be recalled to take Ramirez’s place and could get a good share of playing time.

”Rather than milking it along, possibly getting it 100 percent well [would be better],” said manager Lou Piniella, who wouldn’t say specifically that a DL move was coming today, possibly to wait until all parties were notified. ”Let’s not rule out any option.”

While the soreness hasn’t subsided and continues to bother Ramirez, sitting allows a mental break as much as anything for the two-time All-Star who never has suffered through a slump like the one he’s been going through since the season began.

The Cubs might have been better off, in fact, to make the move a little over two weeks ago when the issue first was revealed. He missed four games then because of the hand problem and hitting woes, but the club decided to allow him to continue to try to fight through the soreness and his slump.

Along the way, the best hitter on the Cubs’ 2007-08 playoff teams continued to be one of the biggest trouble spots in an underperforming lineup.

Going back to May 23, the Cubs have won six games. Ramirez has not been in the lineup for five of them. It’s probably no coincidence that his only multihit game in that stretch, Saturday in Houston, was the only game he’s started that the Cubs won in that span. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

Time off – thumb injury or no – the time off will do Ramirez, and the Cubs, good. Chad Tracy will not set the world on fire as he did in his younger years, but he’ll certainly improve on Ramriez’s current numbers.

Oh, and Lou Piniella won’t stubbornly insist on batting him fourth.

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