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Cubs still high on Casey Coleman

Chicago Cubs starter Randy Wells wipes his face after Pittsburgh Pirates' Ronny Cedeno's three-run home run during fourth inning baseball

Chicago Cubs starter Randy Wells wipes his face after Pittsburgh Pirates' Ronny Cedeno's three-run home run, during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: September 3, 2011 12:33AM



The Cubs’ cloudy rotation picture could be clearing within a week if starter Matt Garza is able to return from the disabled list on schedule by midweek.

‘‘No one would like that more than me,’’ manager Mike Quade said.

For now, newly acquired Rodrigo Lopez, 35, will join the mix Monday against the Astros, replacing Casey Coleman, who was sent back to Class AAA Iowa ‘‘to try to get him fixed to where he was last year,’’ Quade said.

‘‘I’ve always said this is a tough place to fix yourself,’’ Quade said. ‘‘We’ll go with Rodrigo on Monday and see what we have.

‘‘It’s not his first rodeo. I expect he’ll handle things well and pitch his game.’’

Lopez’s game is about working four pitches, pitching coach Mark Riggins said.

‘‘He gives you innings every year in the past,’’ Riggins said. ‘‘He doesn’t overpower you. We’re looking for innings from him.’’

How long Lopez and left-handed veteran Doug Davis remain in the rotation will depend on them and perhaps on how quickly Coleman might rebound.

The Cubs remain high on Coleman as a more permanent starter while Andrew Cashner (shoulder) remains sidelined.

‘‘Casey can get his confidence back and location and get consistency,’’ Riggins said. ‘‘Up here, it’s about consistency. I don’t think it will take him long. All he needs is a few games. He’ll be back soon.’’

Coleman acknowledged needing to regain command of the strike zone.

‘‘It seemed like last year I would start the game down in the zone, but down in the middle of the plate and establishing the strike zone,’’ Coleman said. ‘‘Then later in the game, I was able to work the corners and start getting some calls outside. This year, it feels like if I’m over the plate, I’m up in the zone instead of down. And if I’m not over the plate, I’m trying to pick corners too early instead of establishing the strike zone.

‘‘I need to be able to find a way to establish it down in the zone early. Over the plate is fine as long as it’s down. And as the game goes on, you start to move out to the corners.’’

Back problems return

Reed Johnson hasn’t been available after experiencing back problems again.

He had been playing regularly since Marlon Byrd was hit in the face by a pitch in Boston last Saturday but not since Wednesday, when he went 1-for-2 against the Mets.

Johnson, who has a history of back problems, has been getting daily treatment.

‘‘Reed is who I’m most concerned about,’’ Quade said. ‘‘He’s a gamer. But that’s a situation that if you rush it, it could be seasonlong.’’

Quade started rookie Tony Campana in center field again. Lou Montanez also got another start in right.

Johnson and Jeff Baker (groin strain) aren’t officially on the disabled list, but Baker is only available on a limited basis. A healthy Baker would’ve started Saturday against Pirates lefty Paul Maholm because he leads all major-leaguers with a .525 average (21-for-40) against southpaws.

The better injury news is the imminent return of catcher Geovany Soto (left groin strain), who could be back today.



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