Patterson, Dubois sent to Minors

Patterson, Dubois sent to Minors

ATLANTA -- The Chicago Cubs decided Corey Patterson needed a change.

The Cubs optioned Patterson and outfielder Jason Dubois to Triple-A Iowa after Thursday's game, and purchased the contracts of outfielders Adam Greenberg and Matt Murton from Double-A West Tenn.

"Obviously, we're not going well and we're not here to point fingers at these guys, especially Corey, that it's their fault," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said after the team lost its eighth straight game. "Corey's been in a funk and we're not helping him by having him try to get out of it under these conditions.

"I think it's better that he can clear his head and spend a lot of time working on the stuff he and [hitting coach Gene Clines] have been trying over the last four days, and hopefully it'll click," Hendry said. "For his own good, and our good long-term, it seems like the right thing to do."

Patterson declined to talk to reporters after Thursday's game. The 25-year-old center fielder was batting .232 with 11 home runs and 24 RBIs. He started the season well, hitting .284 in April, and followed that with a .273 average in May.

But Patterson scuffled in June, hitting .157 with one homer and five RBIs, and was 3-for-18 this month in six games. He reached on a bunt single with one out in the fifth Thursday, which is something the Cubs have wanted him to do more, but struck out to end the second game of the doubleheader against Atlanta.

"He knows we still think the Corey we know we're going to get is in there," Hendry said. "He's probably internalizing a lot of it and trying too hard to make things happen, and when you do that in this game, unfortunately, sometimes it goes the other way on you. That's what he's going through now."

The Cubs projected Patterson as a leadoff hitter this year to take advantage of his speed and base-stealing ability, but he struggled there and batted .218 in the No. 1 spot. Cubs manager Dusty Baker has inserted him everywhere in the lineup except fourth and fifth, and never seemed to find the right fit.

"He knows he's better than he's playing," Baker said Thursday. "Hopefully, he can go find himself and find his stroke and find his game, and dominate the way he's capable of dominating."

Clines predicted a solid season for Patterson this spring, but lately the center fielder has looked lost. The problem is simply lack of contact. Patterson was fouling pitches off that he used to drive, and wasn't centering the ball. He has struck out 82 times and had an overall on-base percentage of .270. He had Sunday and Monday off to regroup, but the Cubs decided he needed more time.

Last season, Patterson hit .266, including .336 in August, when he was first inserted into the leadoff spot.

Patterson predicted his return would be a "gradual process." He remembers August 2004, too.

"I did it once," he said on Wednesday. "I know I can do it again. I've played well. I can do it again."

The Iowa Cubs' weekend games in New Orleans have been postponed because of the weather, and the team will then have the All-Star break off before resuming play July 14 against Omaha. Patterson and Dubois, who was hitting .239, will take a few days off and then go to the Cubs facility in Mesa, Ariz., to work with Minor League hitting instructor Dave Keller before joining the Iowa team.

   Corey Patterson  /   CF
Born: 08/13/79
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R

"There's a fine line when you have Corey's talent. You want him to be able to find it," Hendry said. "When it goes through a period like here, you can see in his face he's trying too hard. It's hard to fix it in the middle of the game.

"I think it'll be good for him," Hendry said. "There's been a lot of outstanding players in the past who have gone down and gotten ironed out and been good the rest of their career, and hopefully it'll happen to him."

Dubois, 26, was on the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career, and hit .346 in 12 games in April. But he batted .227 in 17 games in June, and was 2-for-12 as a pinch-hitter.

"I've got to go down there and work and try to get back here as fast as I can," Dubois said. "It's not a bad thing -- it may be a good thing. I haven't been playing as good as I want to. I'll get some [at-bats], and hopefully get back."

His playing time was reduced when Todd Hollandsworth found his stroke.

"It's real tough to get timing when you haven't seen a pitch in eight, nine days, and you get that one opportunity to do the best you can," Dubois said. "Sometimes you screw yourself in the ground because you try too hard. You try to make everything happen on every swing you take. That's what's been happening. I've been going downhill. I think this will help it out."

Greenberg, 24, was batting .278 at West Tenn with four homers, seven triples, nine doubles and 28 RBIs. He has played 63 games in right field, 10 in center and one in left.

Murton, 23, was hitting .342 with eight homers, 17 doubles and 46 RBIs at West Tenn. He was acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Nomar Garciaparra deal last July.

Will the Cubs play the new kids?

"We're in a situation where, hopefully, they'll give us a spark," Hendry said. "They certainly earned it."

The Cubs would've considered calling up outfielder Felix Pie, but he has a bone bruise on his right ankle and will be sidelined at least one more week, possibly more.

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