Notes: Wellemeyer optioned to Triple-A

Notes: Wellemeyer optioned to Triple-A

CHICAGO -- Mark Prior was activated from the disabled list Tuesday and reliever Todd Wellemeyer optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the roster. Wellemeyer will start Friday in Iowa's home opener.

"It was a tough choice," Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker said of the move. "Todd understood he's going down to start and get him some innings. He's very close to being an exceptional pitcher. He's got to get a better command of the strike zone. Spot-pitching and relieving here at this point wasn't going to help him out much."

Catcher Henry Blanco was matched up with Prior for Tuesday's game, which was postponed because of rain. The Cubs and San Diego Padres will play a doubleheader on Wednesday, starting at 12:05 p.m. CT. Blanco will catch Prior in Game 2 while Kerry Wood will start the first game.

"At this point, as long as Mark's here, Blanco will catch him," Baker said. "We've got to choose somebody. Michael [Barrett] is going to catch [Greg] Maddux most of the time and Blanco will catch Prior most of the time."

Hot start: Last April, Derrek Lee batted .233. He wasn't bothered because he usually gets off to a slow start.

So far this month, Lee is hitting .333, which got a boost from his 4-for-6 effort on Opening Day. Baker tried to give Lee more at-bats this spring, and the first baseman batted .353 (19-for-53). But Lee laughed at that. He said his good start has nothing to do with Cactus League at-bats.

"This spring was the least amount of at-bats I had," Lee said Tuesday. "I think that's what helped. I felt really fresh. I felt great.

"I think spring and the season are two different things," he said. "A game like [Tuesday, with rain], you don't play any games like this in Spring Training. I think it's two different things. I can't say I felt great in spring. It's the best I've felt at the plate."

Nomar Garciaparra had a terrific spring, but has scuffled in the early going. He entered Tuesday batting .161.

"I'm sure if you asked Nomar with a week left in Spring Training, he felt great," Lee said. "But you get in a schedule and you play a game, get a day off, it's just different. You never know what will happen when the season starts."

Lee still can't figure out what he needs to do in Spring Training to get off to a better start.

"I didn't have an answer for it, that's for sure," he said. "There are times I swung great in spring and came out cold, and times I swung awful and came out cold. You can't put a finger on an exact reason for it. I'm sure with a guy like Nomar, I'm sure he doesn't have a reason why he's not swinging the bat great, but a week from now he will be."

   Nomar Garciaparra  /   SS
Born: 07/23/73
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

World champs: Garciaparra has yet to hear when he will receive his ring from Boston's 2004 World Series championship. The Red Sox received theirs on Monday.

"They asked for my ring size," Garciaparra said.

In 2004, Lee and Todd Hollandsworth received their rings from winning the 2003 World Series with Florida on April 25, when a Marlins official brought them to Wrigley Field.

Holy water: Baker keeps a vial of holy water in his desk. When he was a player, teammate Manny Mota would go to church to get some and share it.

"It's about as close to holy medicine as you can get," Baker said.

The Cubs manager, who is not Catholic, said he applies it "to people who hurt." Among the players he's used it on is Prior.

"It's not like some voodoo," Baker said. "It's blessed. I hope my sins don't negate the effectiveness of the water."

Right to know: Todd Walker was asked about not starting against a left-hander in the home opener. Jerry Hairston was asked about not starting at second base the day after Walker was injured. Baker was curious about the process.

"[Hairston] didn't come out and call you guys over to talk about it," Baker said. "Somebody had to ask him. One thing I don't understand is with the team unity and us being together, whoever's not playing is approached by somebody and asked about not playing.

"It's not like he was prompted or he called some press conference to say that," Baker said of Hairston, who said he was disappointed at not starting on Monday. "To me, it looks like somebody is going to whoever is not playing to start stuff. Every day you could find somebody who's not happy about playing.

"I talked to [Hairston] about it and the situation. I told him he'll be playing most of the time," Baker said. "The matchup with Neifi [Perez] against the two [Padres'] right-handers, it was the best matchup. That's my job."

Extra bases: Lee wants Wrigley Field's caretakers to reconsider putting some padding on the brick wall outlining the new Bullpen Seats located between the visitor's dugout and their bullpen. "Tell them [catcher] Michael Barrett has on catcher's gear and I don't," Lee said. ... Ryan Dempster's six-inning outing on Monday was his longest since July 18, 2003, which was his second-to-last start before undergoing Tommy John surgery. ... The Cubs' rotation of Dempster, Prior, Wood, Carlos Zambrano and Greg Maddux are all one-time All-Stars. "That's kind of cool," Dempster said. ... The Cubs played three doubleheaders last year. They were swept once and split two.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.