Losing Ramirez is a big blow to the Cubs' offense. The third baseman was batting .380 (27-for-71) with four homers, a triple, two doubles, 11 RBIs and 11 multi-hit efforts in his past 19 games. He injured his knee May 12 in Philadelphia when he overextended his left leg stepping on the bag, and aggravated it on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
"Our doctors felt that putting him on the [disabled list] and giving him full rest and treatment would be the best for the player, so that's what we're doing," Piniella said.
Ramirez could come back in time for the final two games of the Cubs' Interleague rematch against the Chicago White Sox, June 23-24.
"We're going to miss Ramirez's bat, there's no question about it," Piniella said. "We're fortunate Mark [DeRosa] can move over there and hold that position until Ramirez gets ready."
Go Tigers: Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot made up the starting middle infield on the Louisiana State University baseball team in 2000 that reached the College World Series. On Monday night, the two were paired together again in the infield for the Cubs, the first time they've been together since the CWS.
Fontenot has had a rough initiation. He got clocked in the head when Atlanta's Edgar Renteria slid hard into him at second base Sunday.
"I think it was probably frustration on Renteria's part," Piniella said of the slide. "Sometimes umpires call that play, and sometimes they don't, and last night they chose not to."
To his credit, Fontenot kept his cool.
"I figured I was low, and when he came in, he just hit me," said Fontenot, who had a little achiness Monday but nothing to keep him out of the lineup.
It was quite a game for the infielder, who also hit his first Major League home run. Good thing the fans in Atlanta tossed it back, because he was able to get the souvenir.
"It's definitely special," Fontenot said. "I had some family -- parents and a brother and sister -- who came to the game and got a chance to see it."
It was a little tough getting tickets. Fontenot was alloted six, and he "stole" one from Theriot.
Aches and pains: Catcher Henry Blanco, on the disabled list since May 31 because of a herniated disk in his neck, took batting practice Monday for the first time since he was sidelined. He could begin a Minor League rehab assignment later this week.
"I feel a little better, but it's something I still have to work on and do some more rehab," Blanco said Monday. "I'm trying to see what I can do the next few days."
He isn't too concerned about his slow comeback.
"I'm not worried, but it'll be in my head," he said. "Let's hope everything goes OK and we'll go from there."
Blanco could have company when he goes to the Minors. Daryle Ward, out with a strained left hip since June 3, could be ready for a rehab assignment at the same time.
Old friends: The Mariners come to town for an Interleague series, starting Tuesday, and it will be the franchise's first trip to Wrigley Field.
Piniella is well-versed in Mariners lore, having managed the team from 1993-2002.
"The team is doing well, the city of Seattle is a wonderful sports town, and the fans support the team there," Piniella said. "I'm happy for them, I really am. I hope we can play well against them, but [more importantly] we need to start playing well at home."
The Cubs entered Monday's game with an 11-17 record at Wrigley Field compared to 16-17 on the road.
Among the former players on the Mariners' roster who were in Seattle at the same time Piniella was is outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
"He's a player -- I like him a lot, and not only as a player but as a person," Piniella said.
How is Piniella's Japanese?
"I speak Spanish to him," Piniella said.
Schedule change: The St. Louis Cardinals and Cubs will play their day-night doubleheader on Sept. 15, and not Sept. 14 as previously announced. The makeup date for the April 29 game had originally been scheduled for Sept. 14 as a day-night doubleheader, but Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association approved the switch. The first game will start at 12:10 p.m. CT on Sept. 15, to be followed by the regularly scheduled night game, which will begin at 7:10.
Extra bases: Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis, who both had short outings in the past two games, were available in the bullpen if needed Monday night. ... American Idol's Kellie Pickler will sing the seventh inning stretch Tuesday as part of Country Music Night at Wrigley Field. Ernie Banks will sing Wednesday, with The Fray on Thursday, followed by Chicago actor John Mahoney on Friday. Julia Louis-Dreyfus will sing Saturday, and Ron Santo will do the honors Sunday. ... First pitch for the Cubs' June 30 game against Milwaukee has been changed from a 12:05 p.m. start to 2:55 p.m. to accommodate FOX TV. ... "Chasing October," a docu-comedy about one fan's crusade to take the Cubs to the World Series, will be available on DVD on June 12. To purchase the film, go to its website www.cubsmovie.com, or you can buy it at Wrigleyville Sports and at Wrigley Field. A percentage of all proceeds from DVD sales will benefit Derrek Lee's Project 3000.
Good cause: Theriot is doing his part to help 2-year-old Sam Seidel of Baton Rouge, La., who was injured in a swimming pool accident on March 24. The boy has been hospitalized, and his parents, Dan and Kahne, hope to move him to Children's Hospital in New Orleans to begin his rehab. To help the family deal with the expenses involved, the Hardt of Champions Baseball Complex, which Theriot is connected to, is hosting a benefit "Grand Slam for Sam" night on June 16 from 3-7 p.m. ET. There will be a silent auction of autographed items, jambalaya, and activities for children.
Minor matters: Ryan O'Malley gave up eight runs on 10 hits over five innings in Iowa's 9-3 loss to New Orleans on Sunday. Buck Coats had four hits. ... Donnie Veal gave up two runs on one hit over five innings in Tennessee's 5-4 11-inning loss to Carolina. ... Scott Koerber gave up four runs on eight hits over six innings in Daytona's 4-2 loss to St. Lucie. ... Peoria was eliminated from first half Midwest League playoff contention after an 8-6 loss to Clinton. Yusuf Carter and Ryne Malone each hit home runs.
Also, Jeff Samardzija fans can relax. The right-hander has been pitching in relief to work on some of his pitches, but will be back in Class A Daytona's rotation before long. Samardzija was 0-5 with a 5.75 ERA in 11 starts and has pitched in two games in relief, and not given up a hit or a run over 3 1/3 innings.
On deck: Rich Hill will welcome the Seattle Mariners to Wrigley Field for the first time on Tuesday when the Cubs' open a three-game Interleague series. Hill is coming off a win over Atlanta in his last start in which he gave up one run on three hits over eight innings. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net.