ST. LOUIS -- With Nomar Garciaparra out at least two months and maybe more with a torn groin muscle, the Chicago Cubs now are minus both their starting second baseman and shortstop.
"I've never lost two middle infielders in April before," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Thursday. "You deal with it."
Garciaparra was injured Wednesday night trying to run to first base. Todd Walker sprained his left knee in a collision at second base with Milwaukee's Carlos Lee on April 10. On Thursday, Garciaparra was placed on the 15-day disabled list and infielder Ronny Cedeno was called up from Triple-A Iowa.
Neifi Perez, a Gold Glove winner in 2000 with Colorado, will get most of the starts at shortstop in place of Garciaparra. Jerry Hairston Jr. will get the bulk of starts at second in place of Walker.
"Jerry and Neifi are going to have to pick it up a little bit," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "You're not going to go out and get a shortstop like Nomar."
Cedeno was batting .348 at Iowa with three homers and six RBIs in 13 games. He got the phone call from Iowa manager Mike Quade around 10:30 p.m. CT Wednesday night while Cedeno was watching a movie in his room.
"I want to do something good," Cedeno said. "It's a good opportunity and I want to show Dusty I can do it."
Baker was going to wait until the Cubs returned home Friday before talking to Hendry. Right now, the manager had "kind of a sick feeling" about Garciaparra's injury.
"We'll have to go back to the drawing board and see what the best solution is," Baker said.
It will be difficult for both Cedeno and young Mike Fontenot, called up when Walker was injured, to stay sharp and be able to contribute off the bench.
"Hopefully the young guys will play older," Baker said. "We're asking the younger guys to do one of the toughest jobs in baseball, and that's to come off the bench and hit. We're putting them on an accelerated program."
Cedeno was a standout this spring, and won the third annual Ron Santo and Billy Williams award for top rookie of Spring Training.
"It's hard to not go with a proven player," Baker said when asked if Cedeno would start ahead of Perez. "There are times when Neifi is going to need a break. We'll just have to do whatever is necessary to win ballgames."
The Cubs had to deal with a series of injuries last season, and know no one is feeling sorry for them.
"We don't have a choice," Cubs outfielder Todd Hollandsworth said. "You have to rally the troops and make it happen."
Derrek Lee / 1B
Weight: 245 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Lineup switch: On Thursday, Corey Patterson batted third for the Cubs, but Baker said he will likely move Derrek Lee into the No. 3 spot for the long term. Lee has been the Cubs' hottest hitter, batting .411 with four homers and 17 RBIs.
"Today, with [Henry] Blanco catching, that was the best lineup," Baker said. "Lee will probably bat third most of the time."
Patterson has hit first, second and third this year, but is projected as the team's leadoff man. Although with Hairston in the mix on a regular basis now, that could change.
Patterson would like to find a home somewhere.
"Every player would like to be in one place," he said Thursday. "I want to do what's best for the ballclub. I'm not a selfish player."
And where would Patterson prefer to be?
"Overall, the six hole is probably my favorite," he said. "You get to see what's happening, you get to do what you want, bunt, hit away. I've told people that."
But injuries change things. Patterson's able to adjust.
"We're all on the same page here," he said.
Just the facts: This is the fourth time the Cubs have had both starting middle infielders on the disabled list. Last year, both Mark Grudzielanek and Alex Gonzalez were on the DL at the same time. The other times were in 1993 and 1987, and both involved Ryne Sandberg and Shawon Dunston.
In 1987, Sandberg and Dunston were both out of the lineup for 24 games at the same time. Sandberg had a sprained right ankle, and Dunston had a fractured ring finger. In their places, the Cubs started Paul Noce at second and Mike Brumley at short.
In 1993, Sandberg and Dunston both opened the season on the disabled list. Sandberg returned for the April 30 game, but Dunston didn't come back until Sept. 2. Sandberg had a broken bone in his left hand while Dunston had back problems.
The Cubs started Jose Vizcaino at second and Rey Sanchez at short in 20 games, and Tommy Shields at second and Sanchez at short in one game.
Last year, Grudzielanek played in the fourth game of the season on April 9, but didn't return to the lineup until June 19. Gonzalez was out May 6-July 18. Both were out of the lineup at the same time for 40 games.
The Cubs started four second-short combinations in their place.
21 games: Todd Walker (2B), Ramon Martinez (SS)
Nine games: Todd Walker (2B), Rey Ordonez (SS)
Seven games: Jose Macias (2B), Ramon Martinez (SS)
Three games: Damian Jackson (2B), Ramon Martinez (SS)
Ouch: Carlos Zambrano received treatment for a blister on his right index finger, which forced Baker to pull the right-hander Wednesday night when he was one out away from a complete game.
The "skin missing is the size of a dime," Baker said about Zambrano's blister.
"It just didn't happen in the ninth inning," Baker said. "He was probably pitching with it for four, five innings, and if you don't see blood, how do you know?"
Zambrano said after the game that he didn't feel it until Albert Pujols' at-bat leading off the ninth inning. He is not expected to miss his next start.
Extra bases: Baker hopes to give Glendon Rusch one more day to heal a sore groin. ... Zambrano's triple on Wednesday was the first by a Cubs pitcher since Juan Cruz did so Sept. 13, 2003, off Cincinnati's John Bale at Wrigley Field in the fifth inning. It was Zambrano's first career triple. Greg Maddux leads the Cubs pitchers with two triples in his career. ... Joe Borowski will have X-rays taken of his right wrist on Friday to see how he's progressing. He suffered a non-displaced fracture in his wrist on March 21, but threw off a mound Tuesday and Wednesday.
On deck: The Cubs limp home to open a six-game homestand against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds. Greg Maddux will start Friday (2:20 p.m. CT) against Pirates lefty Mark Redman. Maddux is 24-14 with a 2.52 ERA in his career against Pittsburgh.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.