With no DH, Cubs will work Fox at third

With no DH, Fox will play some third

CHICAGO -- The Cubs return to National League play on Monday, opening a three-game series against the Pirates. What happens to Jake Fox, now that there's no DH?

"I'm not exactly sure," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "I don't see any reason why we can't put him at third base and let him get some at-bats."

That's fine with Fox.

"I hope I've given them a reason to give me some more innings," said Fox, who's batting .326 with two homers and 11 RBIs. "At the same time, I know we have quite a few talented players on this team. It's not going to be an everyday thing, because there's a lot of talent here."

But there is still no third baseman, not with Aramis Ramirez rehabbing a dislocated left shoulder. Ramirez is getting closer, and when he returns, that will give the Cubs another decision to make. Right now, Fox could be starting at third against Pirates lefty Zach Duke.

The message Triple-A Iowa manager Bobby Dickerson gave Fox when he was called up was to focus on himself and not worry about anybody else's job.

"He said you show up and do your job every day," Fox said. "That's the way I'm going to approach it. Hopefully, I can earn myself a few more innings. If I don't, my job is to come off the bench and hit and get hits when they need me to."

He's hoping he's made the decision tougher.

"I'm in the place I want to be, I'm playing the level of baseball I want to play," Fox said. "If my job is to come off the bench and pinch-hit, that's what I'll do."

Fox isn't cocky. He's oozing confidence because the staggering numbers he posted at Iowa have carried over. He was leading the Pacific Coast League in home runs, RBIs and batting average.

"It gives you a lot of confidence to know the same approach you've been taking all year translates," Fox said. "It's still baseball. Yes, the pitchers are better, but if you stick to your approach, keep a consistent approach every day, you'll get results. It gives you confidence knowing it translates."

Pitching matchup
CHC: RHP Rich Harden (4-4, 4.95 ERA)
Harden lost his third straight decision in his last start against the Tigers. He gave up four runs, two earned, on four hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings. Harden hasn't looked sharp, although he says he's fine. He threw 109 pitches in the short outing. The right-hander has never faced the Pirates.

PIT: LHP Zach Duke (8-5, 3.09 ERA)
Duke wasn't at his most efficient in his last start, but he sailed to his eighth win nonetheless by allowing just one run on five hits in six innings. Duke has been the most consistent member of the rotation, pitching through the sixth in all but one of his 15 starts this season. He continues to have success pounding the inside of the plate and has been doing that to get ahead of hitters all year. Duke has made 14 career starts against the Cubs and is 4-5 with a 3.03 ERA against them.

The road has not been kind to the Cubs. They're 14-23, averaging nearly one run less per game, and batting .237 compared to .258 at home. ... The Cubs and White Sox still have one more game to be played after Sunday -- a makeup for the June 16 game, which was rained out. It will likely be Sept. 3, but that has yet to be made official. ... Starting time for the July 6 game vs. the Braves has been changed to 6:05 p.m. CT. ... J.R. Mathes gave up five runs on 10 hits over five innings in Triple-A Iowa's 6-5 loss to Round Rock on Saturday. Jason Dubois had two hits, including a solo homer. Matt Camp had three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base. ... Jay Jackson gave up three runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings in Double-A Tennessee's 6-5 win over Montgomery. Darwin Barney had two hits, including a solo homer. ... James Leverton gave up one run on seven hits over five innings in Class A Daytona's 6-4 win over Fort Myers. Starlin Castro, who will play in the All-Star Futures Game, had three hits. ... Chris Carpenter threw 4 1/3 shutout innings in Class A Peoria's 2-1, 14-inning loss to Wisconsin. Josh Vitters, who will play for the U.S. Team in the Futures game, had three hits, including his 15th homer. ... Hak-Ju Lee extended his hitting streak to eight games in Class A Boise's 12-3 loss to Salem-Keizer.

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Up next
• Tuesday: Cubs (Ted Lilly, 7-5, 3.41) at Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf, 6-6, 4.75), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Wednesday: Cubs (Randy Wells, 2-3, 2.57) at Pirates (Virgil Vasquez, 1-0, 3.00), 6:05 p.m. CT
• Thursday: Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 4-5, 4.09) vs. Brewers (Seth McClung, 3-1, 3.55), 7:05 p.m. CT

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