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GM Jim Hendry frustrated with Cubs’ play, injuries, but sees light

Cubs baserunner DarwBarney slides head first ahead tag by Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy as he scores from third base fielders

Cubs baserunner Darwin Barney slides head first ahead of the tag by Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy as he scores from third base on a fielders choice by Aramis Ramirez in the 8th inning of the Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers MLB game Monday June 13, 2011 at Wrigley Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 21, 2011 12:34AM

Injuries have taken a toll on the Cubs, but the team’s woeful position after 21/2 months is ‘‘frustrating’’ to management, general manager Jim Hendry said Monday.

He also said he understands why he is coming under fire from fans.

‘‘I’ve been here a long time, and I expected us to win at a higher level than three division championships,’’ he said. ‘‘I expected more out of
myself. This is professional baseball in a great city with a great fan base, so that’s to be expected.’’

The homestand began better, with the Cubs winning a pitching duel 1-0 against the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The victory went to Jeff Samardzija (4-2), who worked one inning in relief after Ryan Dempster matched Randy Wolf with seven scoreless innings. Carlos Marmol worked the ninth for his 13th save.

‘‘A good win for us,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘The position we’re in, we’re just going to enjoy playing each day. The past is done.’’

Kameron Loe (2-6) took the loss after Darwin Barney scored on Aramis Ramirez’s fielder’s choice, sliding headfirst into home to beat the throw from second baseman Rickie Weeks.

Hendry, whose contract is up
after this season, remains supportive of manager Mike Quade, his choice last fall to take over for Lou Piniella. Hendry insisted he is positive about the team’s future and the commitment of the Ricketts family.

‘‘Obviously, Mike didn’t flip a light switch from last fall [when the team went 24-13 in the last six weeks of the season] and start managing differently,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘I don’t know how Mike could have managed differently [in the face of the injuries]. Nobody has eight starting pitchers in their system who can help, and even guys like [Jeff] Baker and Reed [Johnson] could have helped. I don’t dump any of that on Mike Quade.

‘‘We’re all frustrated. We got off to a bad start. We’re not here to make excuses about the injuries. It’s something you have to fight through. It’s baseball, and hopefully you can get it going. We didn’t play well early. I feel bad for Mike’s situation because we lost guys early to injuries, but we didn’t deserve to win a lot of games early because we didn’t play well.

‘‘There are still 100 games left to do something.’’

Hendry’s remarks came in the wake of the Cubs’ 2-8 road trip. They are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the second-worst record (26-39) in the majors, ahead of only the Houston Astros, who swept the Cubs in a three-game series on the last homestand.

Hendry was in Arizona for the amateur draft during the road trip, and chairman Tom Ricketts spent time there, too. Hendry called the draft a good one for the Cubs, trying to highlight a brighter future and saying things might look better next year with many of the team’s prospects gaining experience by being on the injury-depleted roster.

‘‘A year from now, I don’t think the future is anything but in great shape,’’ he said, adding that the Ricketts family is committed to
upgrades in the farm system, spring-training facilities in Arizona and
facilities in the Dominican Republic.

Ricketts didn’t want to speak Monday, but Hendry said the new owner ‘‘has every right to be frustrated.’’

‘‘Our conversations with Tom [are about] let’s get to work and make the right decisions for next year and keep in mind our own guys are developing,’’ Hendry said.

But he was less committal about free agency in the face of speculation the Cubs won’t have money to spend in the offseason, when some $50 million in salary comes off the books.

‘‘That will be up to Tom, and we’ll discuss that at the end of the year,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘There’s never been any talk of not [pursuing free agents].’’

Hendry said there is still time for the team to turn it around.

‘‘It’s baseball, and hopefully you can get it going,’’ he said. ‘‘Guys are battling. Some nights we were against some pretty tough odds. Some of it is bad breaks.’’

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