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Cubs’ Lou Montanez takes long, grinding road to Wrigley

Lou Montanez gets his first hit as Cub an RBI double off Mets starting pitcher JonathNiese thscored Aramis Ramirez second

Lou Montanez gets his first hit as a Cub, an RBI double off Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese that scored Aramis Ramirez, in the second inning. | Charles Rex Arbogast~AP

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Updated: June 26, 2011 12:41AM



It took a few years after the Cubs made him a first-round draft pick, but Lou Montanez finally made it to Wrigley Field.

‘‘Let’s be specific: 11 years,’’ said the fourth overall pick in the 2000 draft who was recalled from Class AAA Iowa on Tuesday to take the roster spot of Matt Garza, who went on the disabled list.

“It’s been a long journey . . . I’m happy to be here. It’s one of the top achievements of my career.’’

The journey that took a four-year detour through the Baltimore organization as a free agent wound back to Chicago when the Cubs re-signed the infielder-turned-outfielder in January.

Montanez, who wasted no time doubling home a run in his first Wrigley at-bat, was hitting .369 with five home runs for Iowa when the Cubs tapped him to help cover for the injury loss of Marlon Byrd. He played 93 games for Baltimore over parts of the last three seasons.

Montanez, 29, said he pursued the Cubs when he became a free agent again last winter in part because of familiarity, and he didn’t want to “bounce around’’ to another team.

Mostly, “I always wanted to be a Cub. . . . I always wanted to play in Wrigley Field, I always wanted to wear this uniform, and I want to show the fans how much I appreciate being a Cub.’’

Wells, Soto on tap

The Cubs plan to get two players back from the disabled list by the end of the weekend when pitcher Randy Wells (forearm) starts Saturday in Garza’s place and catcher Geovany Soto (groin) finishes a two- or three-game rehab stint with Class AA Tennessee.

Wells, who went on the DL after his first start seven weeks ago, rejoined the team after his second rehab start Sunday. The Cubs plan to option one of their eight relievers when they activate Wells.

Soto, who was injured May 10, passed a series of defensive tests and is scheduled for an extended-spring game today before joining Tennessee. He has a chance to rejoin the Cubs’ lineup Saturday.

Notes

◆ Injured pitcher Andrew Cashner, who aggravated his rotator-cuff strain warming up for a rehab start last week, won’t need surgery, confirmed noted Los Angeles surgeon Lewis Yocum after an exam Monday. Yocum confirmed the team medical staff’s conclusion that the new injury is the same as the original one suffered the first week of the season.

Jeff Baker is expected to be out of the lineup for a few days because of the left groin strain suffered Sunday in Boston, but he’s considered available to pinch-hit.

◆ Byrd’s bruised retina showed healing Tuesday, according to Northwestern Medical Center specialists, the team said. Byrd, who was hit in the face by a pitch Saturday, won’t be allowed to work out or do baseball-related activities for at least a week or two.

◆ Manager Mike Quade is having right-fielder Kosuke Fukudome do pregame work in center field to give the team a third option (behind Reed Johnson and Tony Campana) on a given day covering for Byrd’s absence.

◆ The Cubs made room for Montanez on the 40-man roster by shifting injured minor-league pitcher Brian Schlitter (elbow) to the 60-day DL.



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