CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs decided they needed a more experienced backup catcher than Phil Nevin, and they called up Geovany Soto from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday.
The Cubs also activated right-handed reliever Scott Williamson from the disabled list. To make room for Soto and Williamson, infielder Tony Womack and pitcher David Aardsma were optioned to Iowa.
Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Henry Blanco, pressed into regular duty while Michael Barrett serves his 10-game suspension, had a sore neck. Blanco started Tuesday's game, but the Cubs had some worries about Nevin squatting behind the plate for Carlos Zambrano as the emergency catcher.
"The rationale was that we do need another catcher," Baker said. "Henry's neck was stiff today, and we didn't know if he could play. We didn't want to go with one catcher if he couldn't play. It wouldn't be fair to Nevin to catch Big Z -- he's tough enough to catch anyways."
Soto was called up last September and appeared in one game.
"It was awesome," Soto said of his Major League experience. "Just being here -- you can't tell how good it is until you put that uniform on and go out on the field. I'm still excited to be here."
Barrett's suspension ends Friday, and the Cubs may make another move in order to avoid carrying three catchers. Aardsma, who had a 5.89 ERA in 18 games -- all in relief -- was the odd man out with Williamson returning.
"The way games have been going, we need somebody long which is [Angel Guzman]," Baker said. "It's an unfortunate draw for Aardsma."
Womack was batting .280 in 19 games with the Cubs, who, with Todd Walker and Neifi Perez, already had a surplus of second basemen.
Welcome back: Freddie Bynum, who was hospitalized over the weekend in Minneapolis, rejoined the Cubs on Tuesday. But he has a blood clot in his right arm and will be sidelined at least four weeks. In September 2004, Bynum underwent surgery for a blood clot in his right shoulder. He now must take blood thinning medication.
"We can't put him in a situation where he'll sustain any trauma and put him in harm's way," Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal said.
"I can't even have a pillow fight," Bynum said. "The doctor told me to stay active as much as possible because the more active I am, the more it will break down in my body."
Bynum's right arm became swollen Saturday during the Cubs' game against the Minnesota Twins. Doctors are not sure if the problem was caused by a diving catch he made in the third inning.
"It was pretty scary, but once I talked to the doctors and found out what was going on, it calmed my nerves," said Bynum, who flew back to Chicago on Tuesday.
Still, to be sidelined four weeks right after Baker said he planned on platooning the outfielder in left is tough.
"It'll be OK -- I'll stick by my team, work out when I can and come back ready," Bynum said.
Injury update: Kerry Wood rejoined the Cubs on Tuesday after flying to Cincinnati for an MRI and an exam by Dr. Tim Kremchek, who performed the arthroscopic procedure on the pitcher's right shoulder last August. Wood will be shut down for four days and will concentrate on shoulder exercises before resuming throwing. The MRI was clean, which was good news. "We're very encouraged," Baker said. "We hope he's as encouraged as we are. He's been a little down." Wood is expected to pitch again this year. ... Outfielder Angel Pagan, out since mid-April with a torn hamstring, is playing for Triple-A Iowa. ... Pitcher Wade Miller (right shoulder) started for Class A Peoria on Tuesday and allowed one run on three hits in four innings of work. The run and the three hits all came in the first inning.
Hot bats: The Cubs have been out-homered at home, 54-24, entering Tuesday's game. Only twice in franchise history have the Cubs been out-slugged by at least 30 at home. The five worst differentials:
1924: Cubs 33 homers; opponents 68
1978: Cubs 41 homers; opponents 76
1997: Cubs 79 homers; opponents 106
1960: Cubs 52 homers; opponents 78
1999: Cubs 98 homers; opponents 124
Can the team win this way?
"You have to stop them from hitting home runs when you're not hitting them," Baker said.
Cold bats: The 2005 Cubs were shutout eight times over the entire season. This year, the Cubs have been blanked nine times in 75 games. There are only four times in club history that the Cubs have been shut out 20 times in a season: 1915 (22 times), 1916 (20), 1968 (22) and 1992 (20).
All-Star voting: Online All-Star voting ends Thursday, and fans who want to cast a vote for their favorite Cub should do so. No Cubs player is among the top five in the latest National League voting, which was released Monday. Michael Barrett, Aramis Ramirez and Todd Walker are close. The game will be played July 11 in Pittsburgh.
Sing along: Former Cub Andre Dawson will sing the seventh-inning stretch Friday in the first game of the Interleague series against the crosstown White Sox. The band Chicago will sing Saturday -- Saturday in the park, of course -- and Ron Santo will lead the crowd on Sunday.
Minor matters: It was quite a night for Cubs Minor League pitchers Monday. Rich Hill threw seven scoreless innings, giving up one hit, in Iowa's 2-0 victory over New Orleans. Hill struck out nine. It was the sixth time this season Hill has fanned at least nine in a game. Mike Fontenot had three hits, and was a homer shy of the cycle. ... Todd Blackford threw seven shutout innings in Peoria's 3-1 win over Wisconsin. Ryan Norwood had three hits. ... Billy Petrick threw six shutout innings for Boise in a 5-0 win over Salem-Keizer.
On deck: Rookie Carlos Marmol will start Game 3 of this four-game series against the Brewers on Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and Comcast Sports Net.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.