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Baker hurts finger, but likely back soon

Baker hurts finger, likely back soon

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CHICAGO -- Infielder Jeff Baker was scratched from the Cubs' lineup Saturday after taking a ball off his right little finger during batting practice, but he could be back as soon as Sunday.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella said they were concerned Baker had fractured the knuckle of his little finger, but it turned out to be a sprain. X-rays did not reveal a fracture, and he could be available Sunday or Monday.

"I was taking ground balls and it hopped up," Baker said. "I tried to get out of the way. We were concerned it was broken. I'll be good to go. I dodged a bullet."

Baker was starting at third in place of Aramis Ramirez, who Piniella wanted to give the day off. Instead, Ramirez was inserted into the lineup for their game against the New York Mets. Ramirez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored in Chicago's 11-4 win.

Baker has hit safely in 13 of his last 16 games, and was batting .375 in that stretch. Ramirez, who missed two months of the season because of a dislocated left shoulder, was hitting .360 in 26 games since July 22, with eight doubles, a triple, six homers and 25 RBIs.

Ramirez said he will not need surgery in the offseason on his shoulder, but instead will add a shoulder workout to his winter routine.

"It will be a lot more work now, less time to play with the kids," he said of his upcoming offseason. "I'm going to have to put a lot of work in this offseason. I'll do whatever it takes. I've never had surgery, thank God, and hopefully, I'll finish my career without having it."

Since receiving a cortisone shot in his left shoulder, Ramirez has been feeling better.

"I won't be [100 percent] this year," Ramirez said. "Next year, I will be."

The Cubs began play Saturday 6 1/2 games back in the National League Wild Card race and nine games behind the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central Division. But Ramirez said the Cubs haven't given up hopes of reaching the postseason.

"You have to respect the fans, you have to respect your teammates, the front office, the manager, and show up to play every day," Ramirez said. "We're 6 1/2 back in the Wild Card, so we're not done yet. You still have to show up and play and give your best."

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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