- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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The eight-round preliminary boxing match between Cubs Manager Lou Piniella and White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone has been declared a draw. Stone and Piniella had a closed-door session in Piniella’s office before Friday’s game.
The problems between the two came to a head on June 11, when Piniella lashed out at Stone for his comments that Piniella didn’t handle outfielder Tyler Colvin’s playing time properly, and adding in his radio commentary that Piniella was not very good at bringing along young players during his career as a manager.
“The whole thing was basically about that I don’t know what I’m doing with young kids. We talked about the situation and it’s over with,” Piniella said. “I don’t have any problems with Steve or anybody else. I just want to do my job and win baseball games for the Chicago Cubs. Nothing more and nothing less.”
Little did Piniella know he would be a referee for Carlos Zambrano and Derrek Lee in the first inning of Friday’s game.
-- Shortstop Starlin Castro, who was on the bench for the second straight game, was not being benched for any extended period of time according to Piniella.
“Just a day off,” Piniella said. “Look, he’s been playing every day, just about, since May 7. We gave him a day off in Seattle and we’ll get him back in there this weekend.”
Castro is hitting .177 in June. It’s apparent Major League Baseball advance scouts have found a way to pitch to the talented young Dominican. It’s up to Castro to adjust to the way he’s being pitched.
-- Third baseman Aramis Ramirez returned to the lineup after 16 days on the DL with a sore left thumb.
“I’m just trying to get healthy and get my swing back,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez didn’t think he needed the time away to help clear his head after a disastrous slump to begin the season.
“I don’t think so, Ramirez said. “I think the only way to get out of a slump is by playing. The only way you can get back on track is to play the game.
Ramirez, 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts Friday, was hitting .168 with 5 HR and 22 RBIs going into the game.
-- Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was at Triple-A Iowa Tuesday-Thursday to watch some of the team’s prospects. Although some of those players could be promoted before the end of the season, Hendry said he’s not in a trading mode at this time.
“That really doesn’t apply to us,” Hendry said about making deals now. “What we always do is analyze where we’re going this year, and where we are going in the future. We are certainly showing a good enough core of young people from the system now and another wave will be coming from Double- and Triple-A soon, too.
“If we find out in July that we’re out of the race -- and we’re certainly not thinking that’s a done deal -- then if we did [make trades] then we’d have an eye for the future.”
When he was asked if July was the time he’d consider some moves, Hendry said he was still focused on turning things around.
“A few weeks ago everybody was writing off both Chicago teams,” Hendry said. “Credit the White Sox for getting right back into it. We need to focus on putting us on a run of our own. And playing better baseball.”
13hJacob Nitzberg, ESPN Stats & Information