Notes: Barrett braces for return

Cubs notes: Barrett bracing for return

CHICAGO -- Cubs catcher Michael Barrett saw a doctor on Thursday in hopes of getting the go-ahead to resume activities so he can play again this season.

Barrett has been sidelined since Sept. 2, when he suffered an intrascrotal hematoma from a foul tip. On Monday, Barrett had some pain and was ordered to rest.

"I don't have a big window here, but I think I have a window of opportunity so if I time it, I can come back the last week," Barrett said on Thursday. "I just want to get back and play if I can. If I'm healthy, I want to be out there playing.

"I want to help the team, and do whatever I can to help the team win," Barrett said. "For me, it isn't an injury I want to sit on in the offseason -- no pun intended. I want to get back if I can and go from there."

He will be prepared. Barrett is looking for a bullet-proof protective cup before he takes the field again. He's serious.

"I'm not getting behind the plate until I get one of those," he said.

It's been a season of bizarre injuries for the Cubs. On Wednesday, the team found out that reliever Glendon Rusch had a blood clot in his lung. Infielder Freddie Bynum was sidelined with a blood clot in his arm. Pitcher Mark Prior strained his oblique during batting practice.

"It's been a crazy year," Barrett said. "It's been more than the perfect storm of things that could happen to this team after all the organization has been through. It's been an unbelievable year."

Happy father's day: Cubs coach Gary Matthews Sr. never hit for the cycle, and his son, Gary Jr., reminded him of that Thursday when they talked. Junior hit for the cycle on Wednesday for the Texas Rangers.

"I'm proud of him for doing the things he has and the way he's played this year for them," the elder Matthews said. "He has a 'never give up' attitude. Any time you hit for the cycle, and more importantly win, it makes it sweet."

Matthews credited Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo with getting his son on the right track.

"[Gary Jr.] has finally got it where now he stays on the fastball as opposed to looking for breaking balls," Matthews Sr. said. "With the great hitters in that lineup, it makes it easier."

Still, when young Matthews is struggling, does he call dad?

"There are times when we don't even talk about baseball," the proud father said. "Usually, when he puts a call in to me, it's because he's gone a couple days without a hit. That hasn't been too much this year. He's had a heck of a year. They need to finish strong."

Gary Jr. will be a free agent after this season. His dad didn't want to look too far ahead.

"The season isn't over with yet," Matthews Sr. said. "He wants to finish strong. It'd be nice to finish over .300. I think everything else will take care of itself. There are a lot of great center fielders out there -- we have one here in Juan Pierre. [Gary Jr.] has finally got it after all these years."

Aches and pains: The Cubs were trying to determine the extent of the injury to John Mabry's left wrist. Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal said X-rays and an MRI of Mabry's wrist were inconclusive.

The infielder was to undergo a CT scan later Thursday, and results were expected on Friday. Mabry also was scheduled to see a hand specialist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Mabry injured his wrist when he braced himself in a fall trying to get a ball Wednesday night, but stayed in the game.

"We couldn't tell until we saw the replay how far his wrist was bent back," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said.

Baker did talk Thursday to Rusch, who has had a few players stop by the hospital to visit.

"He said he's in pain, it's hard to breathe," Baker said. "He'll remain in the hospital for an undisclosed amount of time until he gets better. This was definitely life threatening."

Carlos Zambrano, sidelined because of back spasms, threw in the bullpen for the second day on Thursday. He's hoping to return to the Cubs rotation before the season ends. Baker was asked why players were trying to return when they could call it a season.

"Are you rushing yourself back, or do you like to play?" Baker said. "Everybody thinks guys are playing for the money, but most of the guys out here like to play for the thrill and joy of playing. It may be hard to believe, but it's simple. They were enjoying playing long before they were paid to play."

Numbers game: Shortstop Cesar Izturis did not start Thursday because he felt some pain in his right hamstring making a play on Wednesday night. Ronny Cedeno started at short.

"As long as Izturis is here, the way he can play shortstop, [Cedeno] will probably play second," Baker said. "He has competition at second base. The job was handed to him in Spring Training, and it was his job to lose. You always have to establish yourself and re-establish yourself. He certainly has the skill; he just has to do it."

Cedeno, Ryan Theriot and Bynum all did early work on the infield with coach Chris Speier before Thursday's game.

Quote of the day: "We all get melancholy to a degree. It's another year passing in your life, another year passing in your career. I'll do the same I always do -- I'll watch every postseason game. If I'm out there, working in the garage, I'll listen on the radio. I love the game, and it inspires you to return to the postseason. One thing for sure, it won't be too much longer, I'll return to the postseason."
-- Baker, on the final days of the season

Extra bases: Catcher Jose Reyes made his Major League debut Wednesday, becoming the 10th Cub to debut this year. The last time the Cubs had at least 10 was 2000, when 15 players made their big-league debuts. ... The Cubs have been shut out 14 times this season, most in the National League. ... The Cubs wives and Bank of America will host their fourth annual food drive on Saturday at Wrigley Field. Donations will be accepted from 1 p.m. CT until the third inning at the corner of Sheffield Avenue and Addison Street.

On deck: Rookie Juan Mateo (1-3, 4.75) will open the Cubs' weekend series against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday at 1:20 p.m. CT against Bronson Arroyo (13-9, 3.29 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.