Notes: Cubs monitoring bruised Lee

Notes: Cubs monitoring bruised Lee

MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee was not scheduled to play Monday for Team USA against Korea in the World Baseball Classic, but he is also being monitored because of a bruised left shoulder.

Lee injured his shoulder when he made a defensive play in Sunday's game against Japan, diving for a ball in foul territory. Team USA lost, 7-3, to Korea on Monday and plays again Thursday against Mexico in the second round.

"He came up a little sore," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday about Lee, who has hit three home runs in the tournament. "I think it was his shoulder. They said he's OK."

Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal has been in contact with Lee and is keeping tabs on the first baseman.

Meanwhile, Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano tuned up for the regular season with a solid outing Monday for Team Venezuela against Puerto Rico.

"Carlos was awesome last night," Baker said. "It seemed like he was having fun and it seemed like the team was having fun. I'm sure he's glad he went."

Zambrano, penciled in as the Opening Day starter for the Cubs, threw 72 pitches over four innings on Monday. He's right on track.

"They've done a great job of not only him pitching well there but getting ready for us, too, which they promised us they would do," Baker said.

Plus, there's a little more intensity playing in a world class tournament in front of 20,000 fans instead of 7,000 at a Cactus League game.

"Competition sometimes will make you sharper than you believe you are," Baker said. "Anybody who watched those games, you could tell it was serious competition."

However, Cubs catchers Michael Barrett and Henry Blanco, who are with the U.S. team and Venezuela, respectively, aren't getting many at-bats.

"They'll have to get some concentrated at-bats," Baker said. "Every year, I send guys who I don't think are ready down to the Minor Leagues to hit at the top and bottom of the order so they get nine to 18 at-bats at a time. When they get back, I'll find out exactly how much they played. In the case of a catcher, you have to get his legs ready squatting up and down in a game, too. We'll do whatever we can to get them ready."

Home sweet home: Ronny Cedeno was back in the Cubs lineup at shortstop on Tuesday, one day after starting as the designated hitter so he could focus solely on hitting. Cedeno was batting .190 this spring.

"I think I'm thinking too much when I come to the plate," he said. "I'll get the timing. I'm working early in the cage and trying to relax. I think I'm too tight, I'm not pressing. I don't feel comfortable now. I'm trying to feel comfortable."

Baker told Cedeno to pretend he was playing back home in Venezuela and relax.

"He said, 'Don't worry, you'll be a good player,'" Cedeno said. "'Just hit. Don't think too much.' I'm trying not to think too much."

Every morning, Cedeno and Cubs hitting coach Gene Clines run drills in the batting cage. Right now, Cedeno said he feels as if he's jumping at the ball and not staying back and seeing it very well. Wednesday is an off-day. Maybe being away from the ballpark will help.

"I feel good on defense," Cedeno said. "That's what happens -- when you're a good hitter, you don't think too much. Just see the ball, hit the ball. That's what I have to do."

Arms race: Michael Wuertz can't wait for Wednesday's off-day. The Cubs right-hander doesn't have a tee time or a hike planned in the desert. He's going to take a day off.

Wuertz, who appeared in 75 games in 2005, his first full season in the big leagues, is struggling a little this spring. He has given up seven runs on six hits and five walks over 3 2/3 innings in four games. He arrived in Arizona one month early to get ready.

"I've got to be more aggressive," Wuertz said. "I'm struggling a little bit, and we're really trying to work on some things. The day off tomorrow, I think, will be a good thing. Come back the next day and get ready to go again."

Does he just feel out of sync?

"To be honest with you, I do feel that way," Wuertz said. "It's just a matter of making the right adjustments. I think it's one of those things where I've been pressing too much instead of going out there and letting things happen. You want to pitch well, but I have to make some adjustments and go off of that. It's nothing that I'm really concerned about. It's just a matter of making some little adjustments."

Wuertz won a spot on the 25-man roster last spring and said it's frustrating to not be doing well.

"You hate to pitch bad," he said. "Obviously, it's a good time to get it out of the way instead of April. I know I can go out there and pitch well. It's just a matter of going out and doing it. You can talk all you want, but the results on the field are one thing. You've got to step it up a notch and go out and battle and have fun."

There are some mechanical issues that Wuertz will work on with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

"Right now, the catcher's glove looks about as small as it's going to get," Wuertz said. "I don't think it can get any smaller."

In making a decision for the bullpen spots, Baker said he'll consider last year as well as this spring.

"When a guy's been here before, you have to take into account what he's doing now and what he's done in the past," Baker said. "It would be different if we'd never seen Michael Wuertz before. Some springs are great, and some springs aren't."

Extra bases: Jerome Williams gave up two runs on four hits and two walks over four innings on Tuesday. Now, it's time to focus on results. "In the early part, you try to work on stuff," Williams said. "Once you get to the fifth and sixth innings, you have to concentrate and bear down, like in a real game." ... The Cubs will likely abandon the designated hitter after Wednesday's off-day so pitchers can get used to hitting. ... Jacque Jones rejoined the Cubs on Tuesday, and started in right field. He had attended the memorial service for Kirby Puckett. ... Baker has four candidates for the No. 2 spot in the order: Jerry Hairston Jr., Todd Walker, Neifi Perez and Cedeno. "We want a guy who is a contact guy, a guy who is a double leadoff man in case Juan [Pierre] doesn't get on," Baker said. "You want some speed, a guy who makes contact and can hit and run." ... Ryan Dempster entertained a Little League team from Maple Ridge, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, prior to Tuesday's game.

On deck: The Cubs have Wednesday off and will resume action Thursday when they travel to Tempe to face the Angels.

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