Notes: Nomar's back keeps him out

Notes: Nomar's back keeps him out

CHICAGO -- Nomar Garciaparra is still bothered by back spasms and the lingering problem may force the Chicago Cubs to put him back on the disabled list.

Garciaparra was not in the starting lineup Tuesday for the second straight day because of tightness and spasms in his lower back. The problem was aggravated on Aug. 12, when he was hit in the back by St. Louis' Julian Tavarez during a pinch-hit appearance in the eighth inning.

"When I got hit in the back, that's when I really started feeling it," Garciaparra said Tuesday. "It exasperated it more. Every day I'm doing what I can to keep it loose so I can go back out there."

Garciaparra has spent most of the season on the DL. He played 14 games in April and batted .157 (8-for-51) before rupturing a groin on April 20. He now has played 14 games since being activated Aug. 5, and was batting .348 (16-for-46) in that stretch.

"I can swing, and I feel all right," he said. "It's more [painful] moving around, that movement when I'm on the field, and that's when I feel it more.

"I definitely have some back spasms going on back there and some tightness," he said. "It's definitely pretty painful."

Garciaparra is day-to-day, but the Cubs are short-handed with him being unavailable except to pinch-hit.

"We've got to make a decision probably today or tomorrow," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said about a possible roster move. "[His back] is not any worse, but it's not getting any better.

"The frustrating part is you still have memories of how great a player this guy is," Baker said. "If he could stay healthy, I'm sure it's still there. He's not old. I'm sure it's doubly frustrating for him. His stroke was starting to come now. It's been a tough year for injuries."

If the Cubs make a move, the likely candidate to be called up is shortstop Ronny Cedeno, who is at Triple-A Iowa and has been with the big-league team already this year.

"He's most likely the shortstop of the future," Baker said of Cedeno, who hit .259 in 31 games in his callup. "I have a pretty good idea of what he can do. I like the young man. As it is right now, it's hard to take Neifi [Perez] out of there, the way he's playing."

It has been a difficult season for Garciaparra.

"It's frustrating," he said. "I came back [from the groin injury], worked hard, did everything I could to get myself back out here. I was feeling good. Things happen. You get hit -- you can't control that."

Get your program: Jerry Hairston made his 32nd start in center field on Tuesday, and second start since being activated from the disabled list.

"I'm giving Jerry a start because Corey [Patterson] is struggling a little bit," Baker said of Patterson, who was batting .208 in his last 13 games going into Tuesday's game. "It's a day to work, get your thinking cap together, take some extra hitting, don't worry about being tired for the game."

Miracles: After Monday's loss to Atlanta, catcher Michael Barrett said it would take a miracle for the Cubs to reach the postseason -- but Barrett said he believed in miracles.

"So do I," Baker said. "This game is hard to figure. You just don't know. You just have to keep fighting, you just have to keep playing and expect miracles. Nobody's going to quit. If there's a game to play, you want to win. I don't care who you're playing, where you're playing it. You play to win. That's how I was taught, that's how I believe."

Mailbag: Time to check the mailbag and see what's on your minds. Send questions to Please include your name and hometown, and we'll post the questions and answers Thursday on

Minor matters: Jon Leicester gave up two runs on six hits and three walks over seven innings and struck out five in Triple-A Iowa's 3-2 win over Memphis on Monday. Cedeno was 2-for-3 and drove in the game-winning RBI in the seventh. Jermaine Van Buren notched his 24th save.

Double-A West Tenn lost, 6-0, to Mississippi. Renyel Pinto gave up five runs on eight hits over five innings. Pinto is 9-3 with a 2.54 ERA. Adam Greenberg entered the game as a pinch-hitter, and was 0-for-1. ... J.R. Mathes gave up eight runs on 10 hits over four innings in Class A Daytona's 11-2 loss to Palm Beach. ... Davy Gregg had two hits and one RBI in Boise's 5-2 loss to Vancouver. Jesus Yepez gave up five runs on three hits and five walks over 3 1/3 innings.

Congrats: Pitcher Rich Hill was named Pacific Coast League Player of the Week for striking out 21 in 13 1/3 innings last week with the Iowa Cubs. Hill is 5-1 with a 3.95 ERA in nine games with Iowa.

On deck: Mark Prior (9-4, 3.66 ERA) will close this three-game series on Wednesday. Prior has won his last two starts, and is 5-1 at Wrigley Field. Lefty Mike Hampton (5-3, 3.50 ERA) will start for the Braves.

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