A few headlines to fill your day till tonight's game:
- Barry Rozner on Rich Harden:
... keeping him on the field has been something of a mystery, and so far the Cubs have solved it with a mixture of extra rest and short pitch counts.
If that continues, if Harden can stay on the mound and throw the way he's capable, it's simply hard to imagine this Cubs team falling short of the World Series.
- Are lineup changes coming? Will Kosuke Fukudome be benched? And why is Fukudome struggling? Here are some of the possible reasons:
"Japanese players train notoriously hard, but this is a longer season than he's used to," said ESPN analyst Orestes Destrade, a former major-league first baseman who played five seasons for Japan's Seibu Lions. "There is more travel in the major leagues, and farther travel. It's more grueling than in Japan, where the cities are closer together and you take [high-speed trains] between cities. Your body wears down.
"Throw in the fact that there's been a lot of attention and hype surrounding him all season long, and you can see how he might break down. As stoic as Japanese players are, it still affects you. He's going through a funk, and a couple days off might help."
- Gordon Edes at Yahoo profiles Jeff Samardzija.
- Ryan Theriot answers questions.
- Cubs in power rankings: ESPN #1, but Phil Rogers #2. Must be those negative numbers Rogers had for the Cubs this past off-season.
- Non-Cub news of interest: Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria suffered a broken wrist after being hit by a pitch last Thursday, and may miss a month. So ... what do the Rays do to replace his bat? Sign Kenny Lofton or even Barry Bonds? Or, possibly trade for Tampa-area native Gary Sheffield? Stay tuned. The Rays set a franchise record on Sunday with their 71st win, breaking the mark set in 2004 when Lou Piniella was their manager.
That ought to keep you all busy till game time. Have at it.