Notes: Club aims to heat up with weather

Notes: Weather freezing Cubs

CHICAGO -- The Cubs need the weather to warm up, and quick.

They've played seven games, and the temperature has been above 40 degrees four times. When it's not, they're 1-2. Tuesday's gametime temperature was 47 degrees. Cubs manager Lou Piniella wasn't worried, just realistic.

"We've only played seven games," he said before Tuesday's contest against the Houston Astros. "It's been cold. I was telling our general manager [Jim Hendry] today that the way we're put together as a team, if we play in 40-degree weather all year, I don't think we're going to do very well because we don't have that type of team.

"We have more power in our lineup, we need to bang it a little more," Piniella said. "Once the weather warms up, we will. We have more of a flyball-hitting team. We don't have as much team speed to play the little ball that you need in this type of environment. For us, the quicker the weather warms up, the better."

It's not an excuse. The Cubs don't need a dome over Wrigley Field in April.

"I'm not complaining or making any excuses," Piniella said. "It's just fact. It's hard on every team. Baseball wasn't made to be played in 40-degree weather, it's that plain and simple. The better pitching you have, the better defense you play, and the more team speed you have early in the season in this type of environment is conducive to winning more baseball games. That's all I'm trying to say."

While the Cleveland Indians are searching for some place that's not covered in snow, the Cubs are checking for updates. Piniella said the team just has to adjust.

"There's nothing you can do about it," he said. "Obviously, we have to play in this type of weather, and we have to win our share of ballgames to get ourselves in position. I'm not saying we're not capable of winning baseball games. We certainly are. At the same time, it makes it a little rougher. It makes it hard on everybody -- nobody likes to play in cold weather. They'll tell you they'd rather be playing in California or Florida or even a domed stadium like Milwaukee, but you can't do it because there are a lot of teams up here in the colder regions."

Scorecard: Matt Murton has started four games in left field while Cliff Floyd has started three, including back-to-back starts at Wrigley Field. It's not a strict platoon system. Piniella is trying to get some left-right balance in the lineup.

"I like Murton, and he's going to get playing time," Piniella said. "I really do like him. ... The Milwaukee bullpen had one lefty. This team [the Astros] has only one lefty. It has nothing to do with Murton. Murton will get some playing time, too. I'm going to do the best I can to get Murton the at-bats. I happen to like him. He's not not playing because he's doing anything wrong."

Murton understands. So does Floyd.

"It's tough for him because he's young, and I know what he's going through and I know how he feels," Floyd said. "But at the same time, we have a manager who is well established as a manager and has his own plan. When the time comes that I'm playing every day, Murt's playing every day, we have to accept that role. There's no competition."

The two will share left field, and playing time.

"There's enough at-bats for all of us," Floyd said. "If it works out where he plays more, so be it. If I play more, so be it. At the end of the day, you want a 'W.'"

The Cubs felt Cincinnati's Aaron Harang got into a good groove on Opening Day because of the overload of right-handers. Having a lefty or two makes the opposing pitcher have to adjust his approach.

"You can go at it two ways -- you can say, 'It stinks, I'm terrible,'" Floyd said. "I've chosen to take a different route, a positive route, and say, 'Get yourself ready to play every day and do the best you can when you're in there.'"

It's advice that Floyd has passed on to the younger players, beginning in Spring Training. The addendum is: Don't try to do too much when you do get the chance.

"I'm talking to him from a veteran's standpoint, not a standpoint of he's the kid, and I'm the dad," Floyd said. "I want to make sure he understands. He's a great player and he'll get the opportunity to play every day. Right now, we have a right-handed-dominated team and we need a couple lefties in there."

Minor matters: Carlos Marmol gave up two runs on three hits over four innings and struck out six in Triple-A Iowa's 9-4 victory over Albuquerque on Monday. Eric Patterson had three hits, scored two runs, and hit a game-winning RBI double. Scott Moore and Koyie Hill each had three RBIs. ... Mark Holliman threw six scoreless innings and struck out seven for Double-A Tennessee, which lost 1-0 to Jacksonville. ... Brevard County beat Class A Daytona, 4-3. Brandon Taylor gave up two runs on four hits over five innings. ... Rafael Dolis gave up one run, unearned, on two hits over five innings while striking out eight in Class A Peoria's 2-1 win over Burlington. Dolis was a shortstop, and recently converted to pitcher.

Extra bases: Piniella took a different route to Wrigley Field on Day 2 of the Cubs' home schedule. "It was easier," he said. "The first day, I took the Fullerton exit. Today, I took Belmont. I made strides today." ... Mark Prior is expected to pitch in a Minor League game Thursday in the Cubs' extended Spring Training in Mesa, Ariz. Prior, held back to give his right shoulder time to build up strength, is expected to throw 45 pitches over three innings. ... Kerry Wood is working out with a physical therapist to build up strength in his right shoulder, and about two weeks away from pitching in a game. ... Asked if he'd given any thought to the Tribune Co.'s announcement one week ago that it was selling the Cubs, Piniella said no. "That's not any of my business," he said. "My business is to manage a baseball team and help this team win baseball games. Outside of that, whatever happens is going to happen."

On deck: Rich Hill will close this three-game series against the Astros on Wednesday at 1:20 p.m. CT. Hill has yet to walk a batter either in Spring Training or this season. He won his first start against Milwaukee, giving up one hit over seven innings.

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