Notes: Baker chats with Pierre

Notes: Baker chats with Pierre

CINCINNATI -- Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker had a little talk with Juan Pierre on Thursday.

Pierre entered Thursday's game against the Cincinnati Reds batting .240, and he was 6-for-25 in his last six games. The Cubs had high expectations for the center fielder, who hit a disappointing .226 in May. He has an on-base percentage of .287 for the season; his worst OBP for a season was .326 last year.

"We had a long chat today, just about things," Baker said. "I'm still sold on Juan Pierre. Juan Pierre is going to hit. Juan Pierre is going to do his thing -- I am convinced of that. Hopefully, things will get better."

Baker wouldn't go into details about their discussion.

"Just some things," Baker said. "I know a little bit about hitting, I know a little bit about batting leadoff. He was all ears. He's a very attentive young man. Hopefully, it'll help."

The Cubs are 15-6 in games in which Pierre scores a run. He is hitless in his last two games after hitting safely in nine of 12 previous contests.

Good news: Scott Williamson was able to play catch on Thursday, the first time he's thrown since last Saturday. Williamson was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day with lateral epicondylitis, which is similar to tennis elbow, in his right elbow.

Because Williamson has had two operations on his right elbow, he was concerned that something more serious could be wrong. The right-hander was examined on Monday by Dr. Tim Kremchek, who performed the surgery on the pitcher.

"[Kremchek] concurred with [Cubs athletic trainer] Mark O'Neal, and it was exactly what Mark was saying," Williamson said. "You just have to battle through some things."

O'Neal said he could tell that Williamson was in better spirits after seeing Kremchek.

"It feels a lot better with the cortisone," Williamson said. "We just have to get that stuff knocked out and keep going."

Messy situation: Baker admitted that he turned off the television when the announcers started talking about Jason Grimsley and the pitcher's involvement with federal authorities and steroids.

"I'm tired of hearing about the whole thing," Baker said. "It's just more mess that baseball doesn't really need."

Given some details, such as the latest information that federal authorities wanted Grimsley to wear a wire in hopes of getting testimony from Barry Bonds, Baker was nearly speechless.

"Wow," he said. "All I can say is, 'Wow.'"

Draft day: The Cubs selected 47 players, including first-round pick Tyler Colvin, in the two-day First-Year Player Draft, which concluded on Wednesday. Colvin was the 13th player taken overall, and he starred at Clemson University. Overall, the Cubs selected 27 pitchers, including four left-handers, 10 infielders, eight outfielders and two catchers.

The Cubs tabbed left-handed pitcher Jeremy Papelbon in the 19th round. He's the younger brother of standout Boston rookie closer Jonathon Papelbon.

"I think he's the first left-hander the Cubs took in the draft," Jonathon Papelbon said. "That's a great opportunity for him. He's got a lot of potential. He throws three, four pitches, all for strikes. He can go out there and [he] knows how to compete.

"We all compete real well when we're out on the baseball field," Jonathon said. "We've all grown up together. We've just competed like ... whoever can finish their meal first gets seconds. That's just how it was. That's all we know. It's in our blood. It's instilled in us. He'll be all right."

Extra bases: Derrek Lee could be hitting by the middle of next week, and O'Neal wanted to clarify that the Cubs first baseman wasn't ready for full-fledged batting practice yet. "We hopefully will have him swing next week," O'Neal said. ... The Cubs lost 1-0 on Wednesday in Houston, the seventh time they've been shut out this season, which is the most in the National League. "That's probably the things I hate worst in baseball -- shutouts, walks and errors," Baker said. "When you get shut out, it means you didn't have a chance to win. I don't like shutouts." ... The Cubs will try to save Carlos Marmol in case the rookie is needed to start on Sunday in place of Kerry Wood. Wood has had trouble recovering between starts. "It puts us behind the 8-ball a little bit because we can't use [Marmol out of the 'pen]," Baker said. ... Scott Eyre needs one strikeout for 400 in his career.

Sing along: Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis will lead the Wrigley Field crowd next Tuesday in the seventh-inning stretch. Maybe he'll bring along new Cubs pick and Irish wide receiver Jeff Samardzija, selected in the fifth round of the draft. On June 14, former Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe will lead "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," followed on June 15 by Chicago native and actor Carlos Bernard. WGN Radio broadcasters Pat Hughes and Ron Santo will sing on June 16, followed by Andy Pafko on June 17 and Chicago native and actor Jeremy Piven on June 18. Piven stars in the HBO show "Entourage."

Minor matters: Nic Jackson went 2-for-4 with two doubles in Double-A West Tenn's 5-4 loss to Birmingham. J.R. Mathes gave up four runs on nine hits over seven innings. Chris Walker also had two hits. ... Jake Fox was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the eighth in Class A Daytona's 7-2 loss to Jupiter. Mike Billek gave up five runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings. Ryan Harvey had three hits, and has hit safely in nine of his last 11 games. ... Todd Blackford threw six scoreless innings in Class A Peoria's 5-2 win over Burlington. He gave up two hits, walked five and struck out four. ... Triple-A Iowa had the day off on Wednesday.

On deck: Right-hander Greg Maddux (6-5, 4.77 ERA) will seek his 325th career win on Friday when he starts against Reds right-hander Elizardo Ramirez (2-4, 3.95 ERA). The game will be broadcast on WGN Radio and Comcast Sports Net.

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