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Cubs’Aramis Ramirez, Jeff Baker try to ignore trade rumors

Aramis Ramirez Cubs celebrates after hitting solo home run sixth inning Wrigley Field Friday July 1 2011 Chicago. | John

Aramis Ramirez of the Cubs celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning at Wrigley Field Friday, July 1, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~ Sun-Times

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Updated: July 2, 2011 2:02AM

As the Cubs’ season slipped one more loss toward its demise Friday, at least two more Cubs came face-to-face with the specter of their time with the team running out.

Or at least face-to-face with ­reporters asking about it.

“I try to block that out,” said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who’s in the final guaranteed year of his contract. “I’ve been playing this game long enough, and you never know what’s going to happen. You’re here for eight years. I appreciate everything — the fans and the front office and everybody and this city. We’ve still got three months to go, and we’ll see what happens.”

Ramirez, who has a $2 million buyout on his $16 million club ­option for 2012, said he’ll use his no-trade rights to block any possible trades.

Jeff Baker, on the other hand, has no such rights, and the Cubs’ super-utility player is said to be one of the top two Cubs other teams are targeting — along with reliever Kerry Wood — before the
July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The Philadelphia Phillies, for instance, are looking hard for a right-handed hitter, preferably an outfielder, and Baker’s $1.175 million contract is a fit for the salary-strapped team.

The flip side of Baker’s trade value for the Cubs is his value as a hitter and five-position player, ­especially if Ramirez isn’t back next year.

“I think I have a pretty good niche and role here that’s functional,” said Baker, who has endured this time of year before, coming to the Cubs on July 2, 2009, from the Colorado Rockies. “I can play some positions that we might have a need going forward.

“I know personally I want to stay here. I hope it is all just ­rumors. We’ve been through some rough patches and we’re trying to play better now, but I would like to be part of that team that plays well here. I remember coming here in ’07 when they were winning the NL Central and how much fun that was. I want to be on one of those teams.”

Baker tries to ­ignore the ­trade rumors, and Ramirez has no plans to talk to general manager
Jim Hendry about them anytime soon.

“I guarantee you he’s got a lot of things to worry about besides me,” Ramirez said. “We’re not playing well, the trade deadline’s coming. The last thing he’s thinking about is my contract situation.”

NOTES: Center fielder Marlon Byrd is progressing so well in his minor-league ­rehab assignment at Class AAA Iowa that the Cubs said he has a chance to return a day early and play Sunday against the White Sox.

◆ The loss Friday meant the Cubs fell short in their ninth bid to join the rest of baseball and put together their first three-game winning streak of the season. “The funniest thing about the whole deal is I’ll take two wins and a loss for the entire year and live happily ever after,” manager Mike Quade said.

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