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Ramirez nearing rehab assignment

Ramirez nears rehab assignment

CHICAGO -- The Cubs' Aramis Ramirez took batting practice on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field, and the third baseman could begin a rehab assignment soon.

Ramirez, on the disabled list since May 9 because of a dislocated left shoulder, is projected to return shortly before the All-Star break.

"I think this is the final step in his rehab," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I think he'll need three or four games, and maybe [be the designated hitter once], third base a few times. Then we'll get him back in our lineup.

"This is the final preparation, and how he swings dictates when and how soon."

Aaron Miles, bothered by a hyperextended right elbow, was examined by the Cubs team physician on Friday and had X-rays taken. He is day-to-day.

"It feels better," said Miles, who injured his elbow during batting practice on Wednesday in Detroit.

Angel Guzman, on the disabled list because of a strained right tricep, threw on the side Friday, the first time he's done so since he went on the disabled list June 21. He is expected to long toss this weekend as he builds up arm strength.

Ryan Freel joined the team Thursday in Detroit and was eager to get in the lineup. Acquired May 8, Freel was placed on the disabled list May 28 because of a strained hamstring. He batted .417 in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Iowa.

"I made a couple adjustments and was able to get some good pitches and had a game plan," Freel said. "Maybe it was a good thing I went down there."

He could see more action in center field now that Reed Johnson is on the disabled list because of lower back spasms.

"Whatever my role is, I hope I can come in here and do it," Freel said.

He is also eager to show the Cubs that he was worth the trade. The Cubs dealt outfielder Joey Gathright to Baltimore for Freel. The injury came at a bad time.

"You can't be more upset than I was," Freel said about getting hurt so soon in his time with the Cubs. "I felt it was like a Cinderella story that went bad. I believe everything happens for a reason. I made some adjustments and feel great at the plate right now."

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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