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Return To The Desert: Cubs vs. Diamondbacks, Monday 4/26, 8:40 CT

Let's see. Carlos Marmol and Aramis Ramirez are out, but may return as soon as today. Milton Bradley is still out with no target date. Derrek Lee has a recurrence of the same neck problem that forced him to miss a few days both last year and in 2007, but he's hoping to be in tonight's lineup. So the Cubs are down possibly four players, without any DL time for any of them (not that I'm advocating that) so that they could have some reinforcements.

And maybe that's why Lou is not worried about Geovany Soto's slow start; Soto is hitting only .128 and has missed a few games with that minor shoulder problem. But Lou says he should be fine:

"I was a Rookie of the Year myself in 1969 and my second year, I hit .301," Piniella said. "What I'm trying to say is, if you have the same approach and you maintain your confidence and swing at strikes, you have an advantage, too, because you know the pitchers you're out there facing.

"You hear about the 'sophomore slump,'" he said. "I think that phrase is more up here [in one's head] than it is physical. It's more mental than physical. I think he's going to be fine. I just have to play him and keep him getting at-bats until he has a couple good solid games and he starts hitting the ball and I think things will start flowing from there."

I'm a bit worried about Geo's weight. He looks heavier this year. I hope all the time away at the WBC didn't get him out of shape.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
Ted Lilly
vs. Dan Haren
Dan Haren
2-1 W-L 1-3
2.41 ERA 1.38
13 SO 26
2 BB 5
4 HR 1
vs. Ari -- vs. Cubs

2009 - Ted Lilly 2-1 3 3 0 0 0 0 18.2 14 6 5 4 2 13 2.41 .86

2009 - Dan Haren 1-3 4 4 0 0 0 0 26.0 18 4 4 1 5 26 1.38 .88

Dan Haren has an 8.04 career ERA against the Cubs in three starts -- but only one since he came to the Diamondbacks. Most of that bad ERA comes from this June 10, 2004 game when he gave up 10 earned runs in 3.2 innings. The only current Cubs who were in that game -- Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez -- may not even play tonight. Alfonso Soriano is 6-for-17 vs. Haren from their time together in the AL, with 3 doubles and 2 HR. Hard to believe he has a 1-3 record with that ERA, but the D'backs have scored a total of three runs in Haren's four starts so far this year.

Ted Lilly has held Arizona hitters to a .233 average in 103 career AB. But among the 24 hits he's allowed to current D'backs are 4 doubles, 2 triples, and 7 homers, not including a certain famous HR in the 2007 NLDS. He'll have to keep the ball down tonight, particularly vs. Chris Young, who is 3-for-9 vs. Ted, all three of the hits being for extra bases (two doubles, a HR).

Neither of tonight's pitchers has issued many walks this year so far. Perhaps that will mean a quick game -- the "fastest" game so far this year was 2:34, last Friday's loss at St. Louis, and of the 17 games so far, eight have been three hours or longer, two of those being extra-inning affairs.

Important TV programming note! Because of game 6 in the Blackhawks/Flames NHL playoff series, the Cubs game has been moved to CSN Plus. In Chicago that's CLTV; the HD channel on Comcast is 285. "Check local listings". This should not affect anyone watching via MLB Extra Innings. See the Mediacenter for more info, and go to this CSN Chicago page to find out what channel CLTV is on, if you have Comcast in the Chicago area. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Diamondbacks site, AZ Snakepit, for the D'backs fan point of view.

Discuss amongst yourselves.