Monday, March 15, 2010
Millar entertains Cubs during bus delay
By Bruce Levine
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs' bus ride from Mesa to Tucson on Monday was more like a "National Lampoon's Vacation" movie than the usual two-and-a-half hour monotonous ride.
Kevin Millar's hitting has been just as good as his comedy this spring -- the utilityman is batting .333.
Forty miles into the trip the bus had to stop and wait for a mechanic to come out and change a broken radiator hose. Kevin Millar helped the team pass the 45-minute delay by doing his Frank Caliendo routine, imitating numerous celebrities, including John Madden and Charles Barkley.
"He really nailed the Barkley imitation," outfielder Sam Fuld said of Millar, who also did his best Clint Eastwood from "Gran Torino."
The Cubs missed batting practice due to the delay.
Left-handed pitcher Ted Lilly will return to the Cubs on Thursday after he went home for the birth of his child on Sunday. Manager Lou Piniella reiterated on Monday that Lilly is progressing nicely while rehabbing his surgically repaied left shoulder.
Piniella said he will most likely lead off with Ryan Theriot and hit Fukudome second in his lineup this season. Piniella said he is 80 percent certain that Theriot will be the lead-off man.
Relief pitcher Jeff Gray should face live hitting some time by the end of this week, according to Piniella. The former Oakland Athletics pitcher strained a groin two weeks before spring training began on Feb. 17.
Jeff Samardzija will pitch in a minor-league intrasquad game on Wednesday. That happens to be the Cubs' official day off during spring training, however the team wants him to pitch in order to get his work in as he continues to compete for one of the two rotation spots available.
Piniella said that Jeff Baker and Millar will get some playing time in left field over the next few weeks. Piniella said Mike Fontenot has taken the lead over Baker for the second base job.
Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez are not expected to play until Thursday. The Cubs have a home game Tuesday at HoHoKam Stadium before Wednesday's scheduled off day. Ramirez asked Piniella if he could DH on Tuesday, but Piniella wants Xavier Nady to get those at-bats. Ramirez is recovering from a strained right triceps. Lee is working his way back from a sore left foot after that he fouled a ball of it last Wednesday.