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Ricketts: Hendry to handle baseball ops

MESA, Ariz. -- New Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts says he will continue to let general manager Jim Hendry run all aspects of baseball operations -- including any decisions regarding manager Lou Piniella's future beyond this season.

Ricketts also said Thursday that money should be available if Hendry and Piniella want to add players as the trade deadline approaches.

He said he likes this year's team and can't wait for his first home opener as owner. A lifelong Cubs fan, Ricketts will be in Atlanta for Monday's season opener but wishes he could "fast forward" to the April 12 game at Wrigley Field.

"I'm so excited for that day," he said. "The team's looking so good and there's such a positive energy around everything in the clubhouse. As long as we stay healthy, I don't see why we're not going to bring back the playoffs. It'd be nice to get off to a good start and keep all this positive energy going."

Hendry made many outstanding moves early in his tenure but has been criticized for the more recent acquisitions of Alfonso Soriano, the since-departed Milton Bradley and others who haven't performed up to their high salaries.

The Cubs won the NL Central in 2007 and 2008 before fading and finishing second last season. Ricketts was asked if that -- combined with the new ownership -- made this season more important for Hendry and others in the front office. Hendry is under contract through 2012.

"We really do want a very high level of performance out of everyone in the organization, and we want to make them accountable," Ricketts said. "Nothing about this year is different from years past in terms of how important it is. It'll be really enlightening for us. We'll learn a lot about everybody this year. But so far, so good."

Piniella is in the final year of his contract. Club president Crane Kenney had said the manager's status won't be reviewed until after the season.

"That's between Lou and Jim," Ricketts said. "It's Jim's responsibility to put the winning team on the field, both players and manager. If you insert yourself into that discussion, you're not adding value. You want accountability."

As a major-market team in pursuit of their first championship since 1908, the Cubs have had some of baseball's highest payrolls for years. Ricketts said he'll hear Hendry out if the GM wants to make midseason additions.

"We'll keep an eye on that," he said. "Obviously, things change between Opening Day and midseason so if there are needs, I think we'll be able to address them."

In other news, the Cubs named Jon Greifenkamp chief financial officer. The last four years, he had been vice president of finance for Thomson Reuters Healthcare in Evanston, Ill.