Banged-up Cubs refuse to play crying game

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You worry about the Cubs. You can't help it. They're the Cubs.

Don't, they say. We're OK, they say.

Are you sure? You guys don't look so well. Alfonso Soriano can't play. Reed Johnson can't. Carlos Zambrano can't pitch. Scott Eyre can't. Jim Edmonds' foot is sore. Kosuke Fukodome's calf is. And now Ryan Theriot's hand is.

Kerry Wood is the healthy Cub.

No, they insist, we're fine.


Like a few hours before Saturday's game with the White Sox, when it was Theriot's turn to be hurt.

"I'm going to be vague," the Cubs shortstop said. "It's in the hand area and it's fine."

Mark DeRosa overheard this and said, "I don't understand the big deal. Tell them the truth."

Theriot: "It's in the hand area and it's fine!"

"Waaah," teammate Ronny Cedeno intervened, crying like a baby.

The Riot had to grin and bear it.

"He's sitting on his average!" DeRosa accused. "He's trying to make his first All-Star Game."

"Cut it out," Theriot said.

After that, they went out (without Theriot) and lost a tough one 6-5 to the Sox.

So you worry about the Cubs a little more. You can't help it. They have lost seven of their last 11.

You ask Lou Piniella if he is worried about ...

"I'm not worried about anything," Lou says.

You ask Derrek Lee if he is worried about ...

"No," Lee says.

I mean concerned at all about …

"No," Lee says.

There's a reason for optimism?

"Yes," Lee says.

What is it?

"We're good," Lee says.

Ah, that's a good reason. That's a very good reason. We need to keep reminding ourselves of this: Cubs are good.

Even so, they now have lost 22 of 38 on the road, which is not so good.

"We're scuffling a little bit right now," Piniella conceded.

And they fattened up early on some not-so-good teams. Hey, when you get to play the Pittsburgh Pirates 12 times you're bound to look pretty good.

Schedule's getting a tad harder now: Trips to San Francisco and St. Louis coming up, then on to Arizona and Milwaukee a little while after that.

And these nagging injuries, they are beginning to pile up.

"At least we don't have any of the really serious kind," said Johnson, the outfielder who was playing some great ball for the Cubs until lower back spasms landed him on the disabled list.

Nobody out for the year yet, no key guy needing surgery or anything like that.

To worry about a Soriano or a Zambrano not coming back at all, that would be something to worry about.

But that's not the case.

"I think that's one of the reasons we're being very careful," Johnson said after working out with Soriano a few hours before Saturday's game to test his lower back.

"We won't rush anybody. I'm good to go right now, but I won't come back until we get to San Francisco in a few days. Alfonso will be back soon. Ryan expected to play [Saturday], but they told him no, get better first and take it slow."

It does hurt a bit to see so many Cubs hurt.

The whole outfield is banged up�"Soriano, Johnson, Edmonds, Fukudome, even young Felix Pie in the minors can't be called up because he has an injured hand.

Instead, against the Sox, about all Piniella could do was experiment with Eric Patterson in left and Daryle Ward in right and watch Edmonds do his best to run the bases.

"We're not at full strength ... we'll get there," Piniella said. "I'm not making any excuses."

In other words, you won't hear a Cub crying: "Waaa."

Except in fun.

Don't you worry about us, they say. Cross our hearts. We're fine. ... 4787.story

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