Notes: Penalties expected Friday

Notes: Penalties expected Friday

MIAMI -- The Chicago Cubs expect Major League Baseball disciplinarian Bob Watson to issue his decision regarding possible suspensions or penalties from the bench-clearing incident with the Chicago White Sox on Friday.

"They must be really dissecting that film," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday.

Cubs catcher Michael Barrett and first baseman John Mabry were two of the four players ejected in the game. The others were White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski and outfielder Brian Anderson.

"Whatever happens, happens," Barrett said. "It's out of my control at this point."

Earlier this month, Oakland catcher Jason Kendall was suspended for four games and fined for charging the mound and going after Angels pitcher John Lackey.

Freefall: The Cubs started Wednesday 11 1/2 games back in the National League Central Division. Do they still have a chance in the division?

"It's realistic," Baker said. "Our whole thing is to get back to .500 by the [All-Star] break and then we'll have our whole team back and I'll take our chances. What would've happened if we had been playing the Cardinals at this time? Anything is realistic."

By the break, the Cubs should be at full strength and have Derrek Lee, Mark Prior and Angel Pagan back, while Kerry Wood should be fully recovered.

On May 24, 2005, the Cubs beat Houston, 4-2, and the Astros fell to 15-30 and 14 games back in the NL Central. However, the Astros rallied and reached the World Series last year, so nothing is impossible.

"Everybody's thinking it's over and it's a long way from over," Baker said. "I remember last year, Houston had tombstones in the paper. Weren't they dead? Rest in peace? You never know what can happen in this game."

Good student: Matt Murton felt almost relieved after hitting a ball hard to right field on Tuesday night. Murton hit his third home run, and first since April 13, over the right-field fence in the Cubs' 5-4 loss to the Marlins.

Murton works hard, and he's been going over some of the things he did this offseason and this spring that felt good, but he couldn't figure out how to correct his mistakes.

"It's not that I wasn't working on it before, but I've finally found the right thing to work on," he said. "Two days ago [on Monday], my BP [batting practice] was a lot better. [On Tuesday], it was better and I started feeling it in the game, too."

The problem was Murton's front side was opening up, and he was hitting too many balls in the air or rolling over them.

"If you're doing one thing, you can work on something and try different things and they might work for a short period of time but they're never as consistent as you want them to be," he said. "There's that one thing for each hitter -- and for me it's my hands. If I start doing that and start feeling it again, then I'm back on track."

Once he gets his hands right, everything seems to fall into place. The young outfielder takes notes of his at-bats and games, and he will have to bookmark the pages from this trip.

"It was a matter of finding out what it is again," he said.

Extra bases: Take Todd Walker's numbers out of the mix and the team has had a tough time generating much offense from the second-base spot. Cubs second basemen were batting .213 (23-for-108), not including Walker's 21-for-59 effort in that spot. "It's been a tough spot," Baker said. "I'm mixing and matching what I think is best on that day." ... The Cubs are getting good reports on veteran second baseman Tony Womack, who is playing for the Triple-A Iowa team. "It's not a bad option," Baker said. ... In Tuesday's game, the Cubs scored four runs off left-hander Scott Olsen. Prior to that, the team had totaled three runs in its previous four games against southpaw starters.

Minor matters: Jae Kuk Ryu gave up three runs on three hits over eight innings in Iowa's 7-3 win over Sacramento on Tuesday. Felix Pie went 5-for-6 with a double and scored three runs. It was the third five-hit game of his career. Luis Montanez went 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Ryu's outing was the longest by an Iowa pitcher this year. ... J.R. Mathes gave up one run, unearned, on five hits over six innings in Double-A West Tenn's 3-1 over Carolina. Nic Jackson went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles. He's hitting .321 this year. Clay Rapada picked up his 13th save. ... Jake Fox and Sam Fuld each had two hits in Class A Daytona's 10-8 win over Dunedin. Carlos Perez gave up three hits over four innings and struck out four. ... Jesus Yepez gave up five hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Class A Peoria's 1-0 win over Beloit.

On deck: Carlos Zambrano will try for his fourth straight win when he starts the series opener on Friday against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and WGN TV.

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