Notes: Skippers intensify rivalry

Notes: Skippers intensify rivalry

CHICAGO -- The Cubs and Cardinals have played each other since 1892, and the rivalry has been mostly between the fans than the players. That was before Cubs manager Dusty Baker arrived in Chicago. He played for Cardinals manager Tony La Russa in Oakland in 1986.

"It's very intense," Baker said of the rivalry. "It's probably intensified more since Tony and I came here. When you play 18 times against a team that's had a long-time rivalry, and my former manager and my former confidant, that just increases things."

La Russa admitted it might ease some of the tension if Baker was in a different division.

"That would help some," La Russa said. "Or in the other league -- which would be the best case. We play a bunch of times, and at the end of the day one of us is happy and one of us is unhappy. That changes the relationship right there. But we're still friends."

New Cub John Mabry is now seeing the rivalry from the other side. He came up through the Cardinals system and played for them last year.

"It's baseball," Mabry said. "Once the game starts, it's baseball. The rivalry is great for the fans, and they get to enjoy the atmosphere, which is a phenomenal atmosphere. But we have a game plan against them, they have a game plan against us, and the one who executes the most wins.

Mabry never played for the Yankees or Red Sox, so he can't gauge the intensity of the two rivalries.

"This is more old-fashioned, let's go play some ball rivalry," he said of the Cubs vs. Cardinals. "It's good-natured. The two teams are so close in proximity, you'll have a Cub fan down there [in St. Louis] and a Cardinal fan up here [in Chicago] and the fact that it's brother against brother, grandfather against son, I think that's what makes it good-natured."

Contract talk: The Cubs are expected to announce a contract extension for general manager Jim Hendry on Saturday. Hendry's contract and Baker's both expire at the end of the 2006 season, and it'll be up to Hendry to decide how to handle an extension for the Cubs manager.

Baker said his situation will not be a distraction. The last time he was in the final year of a contract, he led the Giants to the World Series in 2002.

"I've been there five times," Baker said about being in the last year of his contract. "Why would I be more distracted now than the last five times? I stress, let's quit talking about it and talk about the game. My contract is not the most important part of the situation or equation. The team and the ballgame and us winning games is most important."

Looking good: Rookie Sean Marshall threw off the Wrigley Field mound on Thursday to get a feel for his surroundings. He'll make his Major League debut on Sunday night against the Cardinals in a nationally televised game.

"It was really helpful," Marshall said of Thursday's session. "That was a huge mound they had in Vegas [for an exhibition game]. That mound [at Wrigley] is perfect, just like the mound at HoHoKam Park [in Mesa, Ariz.]. I could get a feel, look around at the atmosphere, get used to it, picture myself with a batter up there, what I'd do."

Marshall does some visualization exercises before he pitches. He should also benefit from being at the ballpark for two games so he can learn how loud it is.

"It's going to be really helpful for me," he said. "It's the same as in Cincinnati. It was cool to listen and watch the other guys pitch."

This is Marshall's first visit to Wrigley Field.

"I never made the trip," he said. "I was saving it for now."

Minor matters: Jae Kuk Ryu gave up one run on five hits and struck out four over five innings in Triple-A Iowa's 8-4 loss to Albuquerque on Thursday. Ryan Theriot went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Bobby Brownlie took the loss, giving up four runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning. ... Eric Patterson was 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs for Double-A West Tenn in its 6-3 victory over Birmingham. J.R. Mathes gave up three runs on eight hits over six innings. ... Joe Simokaitis went 3-for-3 with two RBIs in Class A Daytona's 9-4 loss to Brevard County. Sam Fuld hit his first homer of the season. ... Donald Veal gave up four runs on two hits and six walks over 3 1/3 innings as Class A Peoria lost, 4-2, to Wisconsin.

Extra bases: Mabry said he was glad he was on the Cubs side now that the bleachers have been expanded and will seat 1,800 more fans. "For visiting players, they're right on top of you," he said. "I'm glad I'm here." ... Neifi Perez started at second over Todd Walker and Jerry Hairston Jr. because Baker wanted a better defensive player behind Maddux, and Perez is 3-for-12 against Suppan. Hairston is 2-for-19. "We're going to play everybody at different times depending on what we think we need," Baker said. ... Baker was asked about catcher Michael Barrett's comments regarding the fans' rough treatment of some of the Cubs. "I haven't been here that long, and I don't have a whole bunch to compare to," Baker said. "When I played here, winning wasn't as important as it is now. Winning now is very important to the fans and very important to me. I'm spoiled by winning." ... Check out Scott Eyre's cap. He first wore it in Spring Training and plans on keeping the same one as his gamer. And his glove is stitched with the name "Cajab" for his sons, Caleb and Jacob. His new gloves for 2006 were accidently shipped to the Giants, but Eyre has enough for now. He just darkened the Giants' orange color that was on the glove with a Sharpie. ... Jerome Williams has switched to No. 57. It's the number he wore when he came up with the Giants. ... Mark Prior threw 10 pitches off a mound Thursday in Arizona, and all reports were good.

On deck: The Cubs play the second game of this weekend series on Saturday. Carlos Zambrano will make his second start of the year against 2005 Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter. Zambrano was 3-0 with a 1.10 ERA against St. Louis last year.

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