Milton Bradley set to start on Tuesday

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Milton Bradley, suffering from a groin injury since April 12, is close to rejoining the Cubs' lineup.

In fact, manager Lou Piniella indicated prior to Monday night's game against the D-backs that Bradley could return to the field before the night was over.

"I can use him off the bench -- and I could also double-switch with him," said Piniella, who also said that Bradley would be back in the starting lineup for Tuesday night's second game of this series.

Bradley's good prognosis highlighted a positive report on all of the Cubs' injured cogs except for first baseman Derrek Lee, who left Sunday's game in St. Louis with neck spasms, which he still has, according to Piniella.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez (calf) went full tilt in Monday's pregame workouts, and how he bounces back from that will determine the timetable for his return.

Same for reliever Carlos Marmol (knee), whom the manager said had an "absolutely perfect" bullpen workout in the afternoon.

Bradley has appeared once as a pinch-hitter since suffering his injury and has not played defense since April 22.

When Bradley returns, hopefully so will his bat, sorely missed by a Cubs offense still searching for consistency. The 10 runs heaped on the Cardinals in Sunday's victory helped put everyone more at ease, but Chicago had scored a total of six runs while losing the previous four games.

Bradley has one hit on the season in 23 at-bats -- a solo homer on April 10 against the Brewers.

Having Bradley available to pinch-hit, and also listing pitcher Carlos Zambrano -- Tuesday's scheduled starter -- among available "extra hitters" populated Piniella's thin bench.

With Reed Johnson -- batting cleanup -- Micah Hoffpauir and Mike Fontenot needed in the starting lineup, outfielder Joey Gathright and catcher Koyie Hill are the only others sitting on that bench.

Ramirez, who suffered his sprained left calf Friday in St. Louis, was put to the test Monday afternoon.

"If he doesn't have any negative day-after effects, he might be back," Piniella said.

"And Marmol had a nice throwing day," Piniella added. "If he has no discomfort or soreness, we might be able to use him [Tuesday]."

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