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Mike Quade hopes Cubs will be at full strength by All-Star break

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Randy Wells wipes his face after giving up RBI-double Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordfirst inning during

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Randy Wells wipes his face after giving up a RBI-double to Kansas City Royals' Alex Gordon in the first inning during a baseball game Sunday, June 26, 2011, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

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Updated: June 28, 2011 1:53PM



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Depending on how fast reliever Kerry Wood and outfielder Marlon Byrd can
return from the disabled list, the Cubs might be able to put most of their Opening Day roster together for the first time in more than two months by the All-Star break.

That’s what general manager Jim Hendry said he wants to see before he decides what moves he’ll try to make before the July 31 trade deadline.

At this rate, though, even a best-case scenario doesn’t figure to
matter much.

Randy Wells spotted the Kansas City Royals four runs in the first
inning Sunday, sending the Cubs on their way to a 6-3 loss and dropping them a season-worst 15 games
below .500 at 31-46.

Wells rebounded to pitch into the seventh, but he couldn’t overcome an inning that got bad fast. The first six Royals reached base, and
Rodrigo Lopez was warming up as the eighth man came to the plate.

‘‘This one’s all on my shoulders,’’ said Wells (1-2), who refused to blame his monthlong injury layoff for his struggles since his return. ‘‘I’m pretty embarrassed by it.’’

So much for treading water while trying to get healthy. The Royals were the second-worst team in the majors before snapping their six-game losing streak with a victory Saturday against the Cubs, then following that up with another Sunday.

Now that ‘‘second-worst’’ distinction belongs to the Cubs, who have lost eight of their last nine series, including a three-game sweep at the hands of the major-league-worst Houston Astros.

Whatever a healthy roster might have left to play for in the second half of the season, manager Mike Quade just wants the chance to see it. Until then, he will withhold judgment about the quality of his team.

‘‘Lots can happen,’’ said Quade, who’s getting tired of playing up the positives after losses. ‘‘We’ve just got to find a way to win these games.’’

The Cubs scored once in the third and twice in the fourth to make it a one-run game, but Wells walked the leadoff man in the bottom of the fourth to start a two-run inning. The Cubs were shut down on one hit the rest of the way, leaving the bases loaded when rookie DJ LeMahieu was called out on a checked-swing third strike to end the sixth.

And just like that, another promising start to a series was wasted. The Cubs have won the opener in each of their last five series, but they’re 2-10 in the other games in those series, winning only the four-gamer June 13-16 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

‘‘At this point, there’s nothing to do but keep working with the kids and fight,’’ Quade said. ‘‘Just fight.’’

And look forward to second baseman Darwin Barney’s return from the DL. And wait for Wood’s blistered finger to get healthy enough to pitch. And look with anticipation at the rehab assignment Marlon Byrd starts tonight at Class AAA Iowa after a five-week layoff since getting hit in the face by a pitch. In a best-case scenario, Byrd — who will go to Iowa equipped with a protective facemask on his helmet — might be back before the All-Star break.

But whether any of the improved health will be relevant for a team that is approaching July without a three-game winning streak all
season is doubtful at best.

‘‘I think when you evaluate individuals or teams or anything else, you’d like to make sure you take a look at them when they’re whole, as opposed to when they’re in flux,’’ Quade said. ‘‘And I’m anxious to have that club and take a look at where we’re at. We’ve had it at times this year, and we’ve played OK. .  .  . But I’d like to have that [full team] for several weeks.’’



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