Bradley talks his way into lineup vs. Astros

Bradley talks his way into lineup

HOUSTON -- Cubs outfielder Milton Bradley talked his way into Tuesday's lineup, Aramis Ramirez started swinging a fungo bat, Aaron Miles rejoined the team and Rich Harden is in the rotation for Saturday.

Bradley, who has not started in one week because of a sore right calf that forced him out of the June 2 game in Atlanta, took early batting practice on Tuesday. Manager Lou Piniella originally had Micah Hoffpauir in the Cubs' lineup against Houston's Brian Moehler.

"[Bradley] came out for early batting practice and went out to run and said he felt really good and wanted to play," Piniella said. "I was pleased to see that he wanted to play."

This is the third leg injury to sideline Bradley this season, and the Cubs' athletic trainers have determined the problem is not a lack of strength or flexibility. So far, he's started 26 of the past 36 games in right, dating back to April 28. He's simply had a history of leg problems.

"Let's get him healthy and get him productive," Piniella said of Bradley, who was hitting .218. "We could really use his bat."

Miles was expected to be activated on Wednesday from the disabled list. He's been out since May 26 because of a sore right shoulder and went 3-for-12 in three games at Triple-A Iowa. He played two games at third and one at second.

"It feels a lot better, and hopefully it'll stay like this and I can keep it at a manageable level so I can be productive," Miles said. "If it stays like this, it'll be great, because I'm not feeling pain and I'm feeling like I'm getting strength."

There was nothing structurally wrong with his shoulder, but there was a lot of inflammation, soreness and weakness.

Ramirez could start taking some grounders at third on Wednesday. He swung in the batting cage with a fungo bat; he had been using a broom handle as he builds up strength in his left shoulder. Ramirez dislocated his shoulder May 8.

"He'll try to get back as soon as he can," Piniella said. "He knows we need him."

Harden threw 70 pitches over 4 1/3 innings Sunday for Iowa in a rehab start, and he was expected to be activated from the disabled list to start this Saturday against the Minnesota Twins. The right-hander, who has been sidelined because of a back strain, was expected to go five innings Saturday.

The report on Harden's outing was that he maintained his velocity throughout the start, threw strikes and didn't feel any discomfort.

Reliever Chad Fox, also on the disabled list because of inflammation in his right elbow, rejoined the Cubs on Tuesday. He has been with his family in Houston while resting his arm. Fox went on the DL on May 10 after appearing in two games. He will go to Chicago to be re-examined by the team's medical staff to decide if he should have surgery. Again. Fox has already had three procedures done on his elbow.

"That's the million dollar question at this point," Fox said. "Surgery, no surgery. If we do surgery, what type of surgery. I definitely feel better, but I definitely do feel it."

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