Hendry insists heat's not on Baker

Hendry insists heat's not on Baker

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs didn't have to win Sunday's game to help Dusty Baker keep his job. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Sunday that Baker is not to blame for the team's recent struggles.

"Under the circumstances we're in and with the people out [because of injuries], I think it's unfair to be critical of the manager over what's happened in the last couple weeks," Hendry said on Sunday.

The Cubs avoided a sweep by their crosstown rivals when they rallied to beat the White Sox, 7-4, on Sunday in front of 38,645 at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Cubs won for only the fourth time in the last 19 games. Baker is in the last year of his contract, but Hendry said he didn't feel now was an appropriate time to talk about giving the manager an extension.

"Dusty and my conversations should remain private," Hendry said. "He understands the process and how I'm going to do it, and he doesn't have an issue with it. I don't know why anyone else would. But when you've gotten beat the way we have the last couple weeks, I don't think it's something you want to lump all the blame on the manager."

There is still the chance the Cubs could give Baker an extension later this year.

"We have to right the ship," Hendry said. "Obviously, the White Sox are the best team in the world, and we certainly haven't responded in the past couple of days playing like we would like to. We've taken a slip here the last couple of weeks that I didn't think we would do. Any team is going to be short without Derrek Lee, but a lot of other guys are probably trying to step up and take the place of his production, and are putting themselves in a spot where they've done less."

Hendry also has been criticized for not doing enough since Lee fractured his right wrist on April 19. The team has scuffled, and is ranked last in the National League in nearly every offensive category.

"When you don't win and you lose a player of that magnitude and you don't bring someone in right away, you have to expect criticism," Hendry said. "I'm very critical of myself when we're not winning. It hasn't been that we haven't tried to make a deal."

The Cubs aren't alone. The New York Yankees lost Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui to injuries, and haven't made any major trades to fill in the gaps.

Despite the win on Sunday, the Cubs are 10 1/2 games behind St. Louis in the National League Central.

"We're digging ourselves a hole every day," Lee said. "We need to turn it around, or we're going to dig a really deep hole."

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