Cubs hope to pencil in Aramis on Sunday
Third baseman able to hit off a tee; Quade optimistic
ST. LOUIS -- Blake DeWitt started at third base on Saturday for the Cubs in place of Aramis Ramirez, who may be able to return to the starting lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Cardinals.
Ramirez has a swollen left upper lip and seven stitches after being hit in the face by a ball. He was able to hit off a batting tee on Friday.
"He really wasn't available [Friday]," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "It looks like I can use him off the bench [Saturday]. If things go well, and so far they have, I'd love to pencil him in for [Sunday]."
Ramirez, who is 6-for-15 in his last four games, was hit in the face in the seventh inning on Wednesday by a ball hit by Houston's Chris Johnson.
As Pena works in cage, 'less is more'
ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Pena has been taking a lot of extra batting practice, but he's also learning when to back off.
The Cubs' first baseman hit his eighth home run Saturday in a 5-4, 12-inning loss to the Cardinals. This was one of those days when he took it easy, at least as far as he's concerned.
"Today, instead of taking 100 swings in the cage, I took a couple good swings and [hitting coach] Rudy [Jaramillo] said, 'That's it,'" Pena said. "That's what you should do at times. When you get the flow of a good swing, good timing, have a good feel, that's when I step out.
"You've heard the 'less is more' mentality, and I also believe in that," Pena said. "That's something I think I can learn about, is when to back off instead of working until my hands bleed."
Pena has reached base safely in 26 of his last 28 games. Since May 3, he's batting .272 (25-for-92) with eight homers, 20 RBIs and 23 walks.
He just needs to be careful so he doesn't overdo it before a game.
"I probably get accused of doing too much," Pena said. "I don't want to be underprepared."
Service milestone a 'goal' for Cubs' Davis
ST. LOUIS -- Doug Davis' dad is keeping track. Davis is not.
When the left-handed pitcher joined the Cubs, he mentioned he was 44 days shy of having 10 years' service time, which would qualify him for Major League Baseball's pension. Including Saturday's game, he has nine years, 161 days in the big leagues.
Davis has pitched in 301 games, made 281 starts and totaled 1,689 2/3 innings, but it's the service time that counts.
"I don't know what date," Davis said on Saturday. "I'm not keeping track of it, per se. I know my dad is and some people are.
"It's a big goal. It's not all about the pension; it's more like a personal goal. Before you break in, you're saying, 'I just want to get up there and get three, four years and get arbitration and get a little money.' When you get to that point, you're like, 'I can do this forever.'"
Reaching 10 years was not the motivation for Davis when he was rehabbing from a left elbow injury last season. He wasn't sure he was going to be able to come back.
"You think about hanging it up, and I thought if I couldn't find a job, I would," Davis said. "Everybody I've talked to, people who take their own shirt off their back, they regret it. Everybody I've talked to said, 'Make them take it off your back.' Everything is gravy after 10. I'm going to play until I can't play anymore."
Davis threw on the side Saturday at Busch Stadium and has yet to win in four starts with the Cubs. He may get another chance on Tuesday in Cincinnati. Cubs manager Mike Quade has yet to name his starter, and the team needs to make a roster move on Monday to make room for Matt Garza, who will be activated from the disabled list.
In his last start, Davis gave up three runs on eight hits over a season-high 6 1/3 innings. He's ready.
"I may not ever get as good as I was when I was 26, 27, 28, in my prime, but I feel I can still help the team get to the next level and give the team a chance to win every time I go out there," Davis said. "If I didn't feel like that, I wouldn't be here."
Cubs may prefer to use Lopez in relief
ST. LOUIS -- Rodrigo Lopez was called on to pitch in relief on Friday, the first time he had done that since joining the Cubs, but it may be where the right-hander fits on the roster.
The Cubs will have to make a roster move when Matt Garza is activated from the disabled list on Monday. Lopez and Doug Davis have filled in as starters, and one of them is most likely to be the odd man out of the rotation.
"I liked what I saw from Rodrigo last night when he gave us an inning out of the 'pen," Cubs manager Mike Quade said on Saturday. "I wanted to see how he'd handle that."
Lopez wasn't just asked to pitch in relief, either. He had to face the Cardinals' 3-4-5 hitters, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Colby Rasmus. Lopez got Pujols and Berkman to ground out and walked Rasmus, but he got Yadier Molina to fly out, ending the inning.
Quade was saving Lopez for Pujols. The Cardinals slugger is now 0-for-12 lifetime against the right-hander.
"You don't see that very often," Quade said.
Lopez has started 200 games in his career and pitched in relief in 29; he last did so in 2009 with the Phillies, and also in '02, '04 and '06 with the Orioles.
"It looks like he's an option either way," Quade said. "I'm not sure that Dougie is quite as flexible. We'll take a look and see if we use Rodrigo today and go from there."
The Cubs wanted to see how much time Lopez needed to warm up, whether he was comfortable with pitching in relief and how he recovered the next day.
"If you're going to use somebody in a different role, you'd like to find out [if he can handle it]," Quade said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.