Cubs’ postponement gives pen a break, pushes Maholm’s start back
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 1, 2012 10:52PM
Chicago Cubs' Paul Maholm during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, April 27, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Cubs at Reds
The facts: 6:10, Ch. 9, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Jeff Samardzija
(2-1, 4.13 ERA) vs. Bronson Arroyo (1-0, 2.70).
The rest of the series
Thursday: 11:35 a.m., CSN, 720-AM. Ryan Dempster (0-1, 1.33) vs. Mike Leake (0-3, 6.65).
Updated: June 3, 2012 8:23AM
CINCINNATI — When Tuesday’s series opener in Cincinnati finally was postponed, the Cubs got a needed break for the bullpen and two extra days of rest for left-hander Paul Maholm.
Maholm, who was scheduled to start Wednesday, will be pushed back to Friday’s series opener against the Dodgers at home, keeping Ryan Dempster on his scheduled return from the disabled list to start Thursday.
Tuesday’s starter, Jeff Samardzija, goes Wednesday against Bronson Arroyo in Tuesday’s original matchup.
The bigger benefits for the Cubs involve a bullpen that was without setup man Rafael Dolis on Tuesday because he pitched three of the four games in Philadelphia leading up to the Reds series.
The pen also was without left-hander Scott Maine, who had a recurrence of flulike symptoms that bothered him over the weekend.
The minor changes to the pitching plans don’t figure to affect the impending roster moves, with Kerry Wood (shoulder) expected to return from the DL on Thursday with Dempster (quadriceps).
The postponement was not rescheduled by late Tuesday, but the Cubs return to Cincinnati only once more this season. That puts the likeliest makeup possibility Aug. 19 as a Sunday doubleheader.
LaHair still aching
Bryan LaHair is learning a lot more about nerve damage and regeneration than he could’ve ever imagined. And definitely more than he wants to.
The Cubs’ top slugger, who missed the first two games of the season because of a nerve/disk issue in his back that surfaced in late March, still is dealing with lingering pain.
‘‘It’ll go away eventually,’’ he said of the pain in his right foot that sometimes flares to high levels.
‘‘I’ve been getting educated on it a little bit. And nerves take longer to regenerate and heal than anything else in your body.’’
The pain originated in his back and radiated down his right leg.
The foot doesn’t bother him when he hits or runs, he said, but after a lot of standing around, it can get bad. That’s why hours into Sunday’s game, he was grimacing and rose slowly after slides into second and home in the eighth inning.
‘‘It is what it is; I just move on,’’ he said. ‘‘Right now it’s just annoying.’’
Before assuming the Cubs’ major-league-worst home-run totals suddenly are going to get better with the weather, consider that in the same early-season weather, their opponents have outhomered them 2-to-1.
In fact, if ‘‘Cubs Opponents’’ were a National League team, they’d rank 11th in the league, six spots ahead of the Cubs.
† Randy Wells will be available in the bullpen Wednesday, giving the Cubs eight available relievers, depending on how Maine feels.
† Second baseman Darwin Barney was out of the Cubs’ lineup for the second consecutive day, but only because Blake DeWitt is 9-for-25 (.360) with two home runs in his career against Arroyo.