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After rainout, Piniella talks pitching

After rainout, Piniella talks pitching

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CHICAGO -- Sunday night's game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals was postponed because of inclement weather, which will give Lou Piniella some time to sort out his bullpen.

The game will be made up as part of a day-night doubleheader July 12 during the Cardinals' only other trip to Wrigley Field. It will be a separate admission doubleheader, with the first game to start at 12:05 p.m. CT and the second at 7:05 p.m. CT.

"The weather's terrible and looking at the radar, there's no end in sight," Piniella said.

Both teams have Monday off, but the forecast wasn't much better. Both teams also want Monday off before they each begin a stretch of 20 straight games on Tuesday.

Piniella tweaked the rotation for the upcoming series against the Cincinnati Reds, which begins Tuesday night. Rich Harden (0-1, 5.00 ERA) will start Tuesday, followed by Ted Lilly (2-0, 3.86 ERA) and Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 5.21 ERA). Lilly, who had been scheduled to start Sunday night's game, was pushed back because he's been battling a cold.

"I don't feel great, but I imagine that it's something a lot of guys go through during the season -- not feeling totally healthy," Lilly said. "I was definitely looking forward to pitching tonight."

It rained all day Sunday, and the forecast called for temperatures in the low 40s. Not exactly good weather for baseball.

"To me, early in the season with the cold weather and wet fields, you can get some injuries," Piniella said. "That's my biggest concern."

Ryan Dempster (1-0, 5.00 ERA) will open the series in St. Louis on Friday, followed by Sean Marshall (0-0, 4.50 ERA) and Harden. Marshall will be in the 'pen for the first two games of the series against the Reds to give the Cubs another arm. The day off came at the right time.

"Our bullpen situation," Piniella said, pausing, "is our bullpen situation."

In the three games of the abbreviated series against the Cardinals, none of the Cubs starters got a decision. The bullpen totaled 11 innings, including five on Saturday.

"Our bullpen could use a break, there's no question about that," Piniella said.

Neal Cotts definitely appreciated the extra day off. Opposing teams are batting .364 against the lefty, and he has walked four and given up four hits in 2 2/3 innings over seven games. He walked the only two batters he faced on Saturday.

"[Saturday] was just ugly," Cotts said. "They could've brought in anybody out of the stands to do what I did yesterday. It's one to forget about and move on."

He doesn't think his status as the only lefty in the pen has anything to do with his early struggles.

"I haven't warmed up any more than usual or anything of that nature," Cotts said. "I just haven't done the job when I've gotten in there. I just haven't given myself a chance. I've been throwing all over the plate."

He didn't plan on spending Sunday night watching any additional video.

"It's a matter of taking a breath, a deep breath, and relaxing a little bit and getting the ball over there," Cotts said. "I feel strong and confident and everything like that."

"We need for Cotts to throw strikes," Piniella said. "He's faced nine hitters and walked six of them. He's certainly a lot better than what he's pitched."

Jeff Samardzija definitely gave Cubs general manager Jim Hendry something to think about on Saturday night when he struck out five and gave up one hit over six innings for Triple-A Iowa. Hendry was at the game to get an update on the pitchers who are there.

Piniella did expect Milton Bradley back in the lineup Tuesday against the Reds, saying the chances were "good" the outfielder would return. Bradley has been sidelined one week with a strained right groin.

Derrek Lee was not in the starting lineup Sunday in an effort to give him back-to-back days off but most likely will return on Tuesday. Piniella has stressed since Spring Training began that he would give the regulars more time off, even if they don't like it. Did Lee complain?

"I was hiding from him," Piniella said.

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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