Baker wants Maddux back next season

Chicago Cubs: Greg Maddux hasn't worn out his welcome in Chicago.

The Daily Herald reported Friday that manager Dusty Baker wants Maddux, who last month said he'd consider retiring this offseason, to return to the Cubs next season.

"It's up to him," Baker told the newspaper Thursday. "Like I told you before, a month ago, he said he wants to finish strong. If he finishes strong like he's doing -- this guy doesn't want to embarrass himself. It's not about the money with him. It's about the quality of play for him. I'd love to have him back."

Maddux, 39, is 12-11 with a 4.28 ERA this season. After Wednesday's 2-1 win at St. Louis, he is tied with Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs lead in wins. He leads the team in innings pitched after reaching the 400-inning mark Wednesday.

After the game, Maddux told the Daily Herald that he'd love to return next season "if they want me."

Houston Astros: The team has activated first baseman Jeff Bagwell from the disabled list.

Bagwell, the best hitter in franchise history, has not played since May 3 because of a sore right shoulder. He had surgery on June 7.

He will be unable to play first base but gives the light-hitting Astros, who had a half-game lead over Florida in the National League wild-card race heading into Friday's clash with Milwaukee, a powerful right-handed pinch-hitter.

Bagwell, 37, is Houston's career home run leader with 449, placing him 28th on baseball's all-time list.

St. Louis Cardinals: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, hampered by an injured disc in his lower back, received a cortisone shot Thursday and plans to return after resting for two or three days.

The Cardinals prescribed cortisone to reduce the inflammation after an MRI on Wednesday revealed a slight tear in the disc's lining, the Post reported.

"It's painful," Grudzielanek told the newspaper. "I've been playing with it for a few weeks now. [After the shot, the pain] could be gone, or it's something we might have to deal with for a little bit."

Manager Tony La Russa told the Post that Grudzielanek can take as many days as necessary to recover because "we want the back issue to completely clear." Trainer Gary Weinberg said it's possible Grudzielanek might not have any back problems for the rest of the season.

"This is something where when we're able to get the shot, get that inflammation down, it is something he'll be able to play through," Weinberg told the paper. If the cortisone works, Weinberg said all that will be prescribed afterward is "aggressively using exercises to strengthen" Grudzielanek's back.

"This is something where you mess with the core of your [body], your back, it's tough," Grudzielanek told the paper. "I don't know how effective I would be out there today or yesterday because the pain there just shocks your whole body. I've never had something like that before. The last few days it's been constant."

Sanders close to return: Reggie Sanders could return during next week's series against the Pirates. Sanders, out since mid-July with a fractured leg, ran the bases for the first time since the injury Thursday. He told the Post he felt fine.

"I'm very happy where I am," Sanders told the paper. "If you had asked me that a week ago, I wouldn't have been. But today, yes I am. Yes."

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that an MRI and X-rays have revealed that Josh Fogg's injured right hand isn't fractured.

Fogg was removed during the sixth inning of the Pirates' 8-7, 12-inning victory over the Diamondbacks on Thursday after being hit by a line drive.

"He wanted to stay in," interim manager Pete Mackanin told the newspaper, "but his first couple warm-up pitches were way out over the plate. And the top of his hand was all red."

Because there's no fracture, the Post-Gazette reported that Fogg could start Tuesday in St. Louis if Zach Duke, who is out with a foot injury, isn't ready to start by then.

"There's a lot of swelling and bruising," Fogg told the paper, "but there's not really a lot of pain. I assume I'll be ready to pitch [Tuesday]."

Seattle Mariners: John Griswold ran onto Safeco Field on Aug. 31 hoping to carry out his late mother's dying wish. He was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing instead.

The Seattle Times reported that Griswold ran onto left field carrying, among other items, a Monopoly "Get Out of Jail Free" card and what turned out to be the ashes of his mother, Dianne, who wanted to have her remains sprinkled at Safeco. He pleaded not guilty and, because he is a first-time offender, the charges may be dropped if he complies with the pre-trial diversion requirements.

Mariners director of public information Rebecca Hale told the Times the team gets several requests each season from people wanting their ashes spread at Safeco, but the team has had a policy for several seasons that such wishes cannot be accommodated.

"We're not denying these people their last wishes because we're mean," Hale told the newspaper. "There are too many questions. Where do you put them? How do you handle that? There are a lot of good reasons for us to have policies that don't allow these kinds of things to happen."

Washington Nationals: Outfielder Ryan Church was activated from the 15-day disabled list before the Nationals' game against the Braves.

The little toe on Church's right foot was broken on Aug. 24 when he was hit by a pitch from Cincinnati's Ramon Ortiz in the second inning. Church finished the game and went on the DL the next day.

He is batting .295 with 15 doubles, seven homers and 36 RBI in 89 games this season and was chosen NL rookie of the month in May.

Church ranks third among NL rookies in batting average, second in on-base percentage and fifth in RBI.

Florida Marlins: The Marlins added some depth to
their bullpen for their NL wild-card push, signing veteran
right-handed reliever Paul Quantrill on Friday.
The 36-year-old Quantrill joins the Marlins after being
designated for assignment by San Diego on Aug. 31. He went 1-1 with
a 3.41 ERA in 22 games with the Padres. He began the season with
the New York Yankees, going 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in 22 games.
Quantrill joined his seventh major league team. He has a career
record of 68-77 with 21 saves and a 3.81 ERA in 835 games.
To make room, the Marlins designated catcher Ryan Jorgensen for
assignment. Jorgensen went hitless in four at-bats this season.

Atlanta Braves: Catcher Eddie Perez was activated off the
60-day disabled list Friday by the Braves, who designated
right-hander Adam Bernero for assignment.
Perez has been out all but one day since May 19 with tendinitis
in his right shoulder. He hit .216 with two homers and six RBIs in
12 games before heading to the DL.
Bernero was 4-3 with a 6.51 ERA in 36 appearances out of the
bullpen this season.

Nicaragua rips U.S. at World Cup
Ronald Garth and Marlon Abea each hit home runs Friday to lead Nicaragua over the United States 14-2 at the Baseball World Cup.

It was the first loss for the Americans (4-1) at the tournament and dropped the team into a tie with Japan in the group. Nicaragua is 5-0.

The top four teams from each of the two groups advance to the quarterfinals.

Nicaragua got its first run in the first inning after back-to-back doubles by Garth and Jenrry Roa. The Central Americans then added a run in the third inning and four more in the fourth, including two on Roa's bases-loaded single.

Abea's three-run homer in the seventh gave Nicaragua a 9-0 lead.

The United States got its only runs in the bottom of the seventh when Lasting Milledge hit a two-run home run.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.