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Piniella not on hot seat, Cubs GM says

CHICAGO — Despite the Cubs' disappointing start, GM Jim Hendry said he has "never given any thought" to replacing manager Lou Piniella.

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"I'm absolutely, completely confident in Lou Piniella," Hendry said Monday. "I have complete faith in the coaching staff, also. No intention of making any changes at all."

Chicago reporters asked Hendry about Piniella's job status because some national media have begun speculating that the manager could be in trouble if the Cubs don't improve markedly.

Piniella, a Tampa native, guided Chicago to NL Central titles in his first two seasons, but the team went 83-78 last year. The Cubs are 17-22 this season even though they have played almost exclusively against clubs that had losing records in 2009.

Several players are having career years, but middle-of-the-order batters Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee have struggled, and clutch hits have been rare. The Cubs also have had major bullpen woes.

Sunday, a frustrated Piniella didn't name names but said the team's marquee players had to start performing: "Don't let names fool you. Production wins."

METS MANAGER STAYING PUT: Mets manager Jerry Manuel emerged from a meeting with chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and general manager Omar Minaya with his job and his confidence intact. Before the last-place Mets ended a five-game skid Monday, Manuel said, "I have not been concerned about my status."

MARLINS BENCH STAR: Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez benched SS Hanley Ramirez for not hustling during a loss to the Diamondbacks. After Tony Abreu's looper dropped near him in short left in the second, Ramirez accidentally kicked it about 100 feet toward the leftfield corner and loafed after it, allowing two to score as Abreu advanced to third. Ramirez was replaced by Brian Barden the next inning.

SPLINT FOR ETHIER: Dodgers RF Andre Ethier had a splint placed on his broken right pinkie, and manager Joe Torre said the majors' OPS leader will see if he can swing a bat in a few days after the initial soreness subsides.

RANGERS PURSUE CATCHER: Texas officials have called the White Sox to inquire about C A.J. Pierzynski, according to several news outlets. Pierzynski is four weeks away from gaining no-trade status.

D'BACKS-INDIANS TRADE: Arizona acquired RH reliever Saul Rivera from Cleveland for cash considerations.

BLUE JAYS: RF Travis Snider went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained wrist and will have an MRI exam today.

CARDINALS: 1B Albert Pujols batted cleanup instead of in his accustomed No. 3 spot for the first time in nearly seven seasons. LF Matt Holliday moved up to third, switching spots with Pujols.

REDS: OF Felix Perez signed a minor-league contract two years after he defected from Cuba. Perez, 25, was suspended for a year by Major League Baseball for falsifying age records when he was negotiating with the Yankees.

RED SOX: Manager Terry Francona said CF Mike Cameron, out since April 20 with an injured abdomen, feels tenderness in a different area of the abdomen and isn't ready to return to the team.

ROYALS: The team purchased the contract of RH reliever Bryan Bullington from Omaha and optioned 1B Kila Ka'aihue to the Triple-A club.

YANKEES: DH Nick Johnson will have surgery on his ailing right wrist today, which could sideline him until at least July. RH reliever Chan Ho Park was activated after spending a month on the DL with a right hamstring strain.

Piniella not on hot seat, Cubs GM says 05/17/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 1:11am]

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