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Good news on Cubs reliever Marcos Mateo’s hurt elbow

Updated: July 9, 2011 6:20AM

PITTSBURGH — The Cubs were relieved to learn Friday that right-handed reliever Marcos Mateo’s MRI exam revealed no damage to his elbow ligaments or ulnar nerve.

Mateo, who left his relief appearance Monday after two batters when he experienced pain near the elbow, was diagnosed with a forearm injury similar to the one that sidelined starter Randy Wells for nearly eight weeks.

‘‘It’s great news,’’ said Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who added that Mateo’s injury isn’t believed to be as severe as that of Wells, estimating a four- to five-week stay on the disabled list.

‘‘We were all very worried about it the day it happened. When you go off [the field] like that, grabbing your [arm] and having tingling, that’s usually a first sign it’s the elbow. So it’s a fortunate thing.’’

Mateo isn’t expected to throw for about three weeks while he rehabs at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa, Ariz.

Power of family?

Aramis Ramirez believes the better weather is as good an explanation as any for his increasing power numbers after an early-season outage.

But he also admits that his trip back home to the Dominican Republic for family reasons six weeks into the season might have done him some good, if only to refresh his mind.

‘‘Probably,’’ he said. ‘‘That helps when you get a break when you’re struggling. I wasn’t really struggling, I just wasn’t hitting home runs.’’

Either way, the difference between the numbers before and after is huge. Ramirez was hitting .293 with one homer and 15 RBI in 35 games before the three days away. Since then, he’s hitting .305 with 14 homers and 35 RBI in 47 games, including another home run Friday night in Pittsburgh.

‘‘I didn’t know that until you brought it up,’’ he said. ‘‘I really don’t have an explanation for it.’’


Carlos Zambrano (back strain) pitched four innings without allowing an earned run in a rehab start Friday night at Class A Peoria, putting him on track for a return from the disabled list July 16, his first day eligible.

Ryan Dempster’s once-sore back and hips survived a night of sleep after a side session Thursday, keeping him in line to start tonight.

◆ According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cubs’ 10-9 victory Thursday over the Washington Nationals marked the first time in their history that they won a road game after trailing by eight runs or more in the sixth inning or later. The Cubs were 0-567 in such games.

◆ Cubs outfield prospects Brett Jackson (32) and Matt Szczur (48) made Baseball America’s midseason top-50 prospects list. Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is No. 1.

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