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Notes: Fighting for spot, Miller debuts

Notes: Miller makes Cactus debut

PHOENIX -- It's been a long time since Wade Miller had to fight for a spot on a team.

"I'm not really changing my approach as far as going out there and doing anything different," said Miller, who made his Cactus League debut Saturday, giving up one run on two hits over two innings. "I'm just trying to go out and throw strikes and get outs, and the rest is going to come. It's up to [the Cubs] -- whatever they decide is up to them."

Miller, 30, spent the majority of last year rehabbing from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, which he had after the 2005 season. He did make five starts in September for the Cubs.

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"I'm not really changing anything about how I'm pitching," he said. "I'm just trying to throw strikes. I'm trying to put the ball over the plate with good stuff, and everything will fall into place."

The Cubs have one opening in the rotation, but at least two pitchers competing for the spot in Miller and Mark Prior, who will make his spring debut Monday.

"That's up to them," Miller said as to where he fits. "As far as right now, I'm a starter. And I'll be a starter for awhile, as far as I'm concerned."

"He's a veteran pitcher who can certainly help us if he can stay healthy," manager Lou Piniella said. "According to Miller and the pitching coach [Larry Rothschild], he feels as good as he has in a long time."

Intracity showdown: Sunday will be Piniella's first exposure to the Cubs-White Sox rivalry up close. Rich Hill will start for the Cubs, and his last game against the White Sox was memorable. Last May 20, Hill started at U.S. Cellular Field in the game in which Michael Barrett delivered a hard right to the jaw of A.J. Pierzynski.

"I didn't realize that Hill was the pitcher on the mound, and he's scheduled for [Sunday]," Piniella said. "That goes to show you I'm not into the past all that much. It'll probably be a good experience for him.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Ozzie [Guillen, White Sox manager]," Piniella said. "He'll amuse me for a little bit. I like Ozzie. He's a good baseball man, a good manager. He's also entertaining."

Aches and pains: Third baseman Scott Moore received a cortisone shot in his right shoulder in hopes of getting rid of the inflammation. An MRI showed no damage, and his status is day-to-day. Moore didn't tell the Cubs about the problem until Thursday.

"I thought it was fatigued, I thought it was tired," he said.

Pitcher Michael Wuertz is expected to throw soon. He's been sidelined with a sore right shoulder.

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Designated driver: Right-hander Angel Guzman had problems with cramps in his right arm last season and is on a program now to avoid having it happen again. Guzman must drink a 2.2 liter bottle of water every day, plus two bottles of Gatorade, plus two small bottles of water during games.

"You need to call the Culligan man and have him put a water dispenser next to you," Wuertz said.

When Guzman pitched in Venezuela this winter, he had cramps in two games in Maracaibo. He blamed the weather there.

"It's like mixing the summer here with the weather in Florida," Guzman said of the conditions there.

His Venezuelan teammates moved the water containers next to him in the dugout during a game as a joke.

"They said, 'Start drinking water from now on,'" Guzman said.

Quote of the day: "You look at this ballgame today, and we just didn't really execute. We had runners on second base twice with no outs and couldn't get them over. The game ended up 5-5, and we could've lost the darn thing. But these are the things we're going to have to work on. I don't expect my boppers to do that, but the rest of these kids in the lineup will have to play that type of baseball if they want to stay in the lineup. That's how you win baseball games. You don't win baseball games with a two-run lead in the seventh inning hitting batters and walking people. These are the things we have to correct and find the right combinations for. That's just fact, and nothing more but fact. These are the things we have to work on. There's talent here, but we have to get it to mesh and we have to get it to execute the way you have to do to win baseball games with consistency. If not, it's just a struggle." -- Piniella, after Saturday's game against Oakland. The Cubs were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and stranded seven baserunners.

Extra bases: The hitting highlight of Saturday's game was Barrett's inside-the-park home run leading off the sixth inning. The ball bounced off the wall in right at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, and Barrett never slowed down. Ryan Theriot nearly had one, but was held up at third base. "Barrett's an athlete," Piniella said. "This kid motored around the bases pretty good." ... Piniella said he expected more from reliever Neal Cotts, especially after the lefty looked so sharp in practice. "What can I say if a guy struggles? I don't make excuses," Piniella said. "I'm sympathetic. I'll give him more opportunities, and we'll work hard as heck as a staff to get it better." ... Sunday's game at HoHoKam Park against the White Sox is sold out. It will be broadcast on WGN Radio and WGN TV.

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

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