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Steve Clevenger back for Cubs, will play often

Third baseman Joe Mather throws second after double by Padres’ Everth Cabrershallow left field fifth. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Third baseman Joe Mather throws to second after a double by the Padres’ Everth Cabrera to shallow left field in the fifth. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 3, 2012 12:55PM

With the Cubs still banged up at catcher, the revolving door for backups continued to spin Tuesday.

Steve Clevenger (strained right oblique) was activated from the 15-day disabled list, and Blake Lalli was sent back to Class AAA Iowa.

‘‘I feel ready,’’ said Clevenger, who recovered faster than the medical staff anticipated. ‘‘I don’t feel anything from the injury now.’’

Clevenger, who said the injury affected his swing more than his defense, was hitting .500 (11-for-22) when he was injured.

‘‘We’ll ease him back in, but he’ll play often,’’ manager Dale Sveum said.

Geovany Soto (left knee) continues to improve, but Welington Castillo (strained right medial collateral ligament) still might be weeks away.

‘‘He still has problems squat blocking,’’ Sveum said.

Castillo is rehabbing at the Cubs’ facilities in Mesa, Ariz.

Character traits

Throughout the 12-game losing streak, Sveum said players never became negative. That showed him he had players with ‘‘character.’’

‘‘The clubhouse was exactly the same as when we were playing well,’’ he said. ‘‘Obviously there was a lot of excitement [after the victory Monday]. It’s a burden to deal with [long losing streaks] on a daily basis. They feel they’re letting people down and almost embarrassed by it. It’s a horrible burden. But that’s the people we have. They’re people who care, who go through the [daily] preparation.

‘‘Character is as important as talent, and it’s not the easiest thing [to measure]. In the draft or with free agents, you see ability and talent, but you don’t know character. Everything you do in that way [drafting or signings] is risky when you’re building.’’

Streaky Soriano

Left fielder Alfonso Soriano has homered in consecutive games. This is the same guy who went homerless in his first 30 games this season.

Soriano has seven home runs in his last 13 games and is hitting .300 (27-for-90) with seven doubles, seven homers and 17 RBI in 24 games in May.

Samardzija stats

Right-hander Jeff Samardzija improved to 3-1 with a 1.96 ERA in five starts at Wrigley this season. In seven overall starts since April 24, he is 3-2 with a 2.12 ERA. The Cubs are 7-3 when he starts.

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