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They’ll be blue if Cubs bid adieu

Aramis Ramirez

Aramis Ramirez

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HOW THEY SCORED

Cubs first Castro popped out. Barney flied out. Ramirez singled. Pena homered, Ramirez scored. LaHair singled. Byrd homered, LaHair scored. Four runs. Cubs 4, Reds 0.

Reds third Bailey grounded out. Phillips homered. One run. Cubs 4, Reds 1.

Reds fourth Alonso grounded out. Heisey homered. One run. Cubs 4, Reds 2.

Reds fifth Janish popped out. Bailey singled. Phillips doubled, Bailey to third. Stubbs singled, Bailey scored, Phillips to third. Votto walked, Stubbs to second. Alonso walked, Phillips scored, Stubbs to third, Votto to second. Heisey infield single, Stubbs scored, Three runs. Reds 5, Cubs 4.

Reds sixth Janish walked. Bailey struck out. Phillips struck out. Stubbs singled, Janish to third. On Gaub’s wild pitch, Janish scored. One run. Reds 6, Cubs 4.

Cubs ninth Campana singled. Soriano doubled, Campana scored. Castro flied out, Soriano to third. Barney singled, Soriano scored. Two runs. Cubs 6, Reds 6.

Reds eleventH Votto doubled. Bruce homered, Votto scored. Two runs. Reds 8, Cubs 6.

Updated: November 30, 2011 12:16AM



CINCINNATI — More than a season is coming to an end for the Cubs over the next two weeks. It’s also the end of an era many fans seem only too happy to see slip into history.

And that makes the season’s final homestand, which opens Friday against Houston, especially personal — and possibly emotional — for at least a few players and staff. The Cubs finished their road trip on Thursday night with an 8-6 loss in 11 innings to the Cincinnati Reds.

“We’ve got two weeks left, and we haven’t heard anything from the front office, so I’m prepared for everything,’’ said third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who has a contract option for 2012 but seeks a multiyear deal. “And I know it could be my last homestand.’’

He’s not the only one.

Carlos Zambrano already is gone — his locker at Wrigley Field cleared out — and not expected back for the final year of his contract next year. Manager Mike Quade and his staff lost all semblance of job security with Jim Hendry’s firing this summer. And even with three years left on his contract, left fielder Alfonso Soriano is expected to be shopped aggressively this winter to shed what little of the remaining $54 million is possible while opening up an outfield position for prospects.

“I don’t know what they want to do next year, but I’m just going to go there and have fun the last homestand of the year, and then see what happens,” Soriano said.

It would be the end of a five-year run for Soriano, eight-plus years for Ramirez — the only position player left from the 2003 autumn of Bartman.

“I appreciate the fans, the city, everything about Chicago,” Ramirez said. “I spent most of my career playing at Wrigley Field, and it’s going to be a little emotional, especially the last series against Milwaukee. But I’ve got to control my emotions and go out there and play the games.’’

Neither Soriano nor Ramirez wants to leave.

“That’s no secret,” said Ramirez, who plans to meet with his agent early in the week to map out their plans for the winter depending what the Cubs decide to do with his option — not to mention who the new GM might be and when the GM might be hired.

Ramirez, who would easily be the top free agent third baseman, has the right to opt out of 2012 if the Cubs exercise the $16 million option.

“I’m 33, so I’m not looking for a five- or six-year deal. That’s for sure,” Ramirez said. “But three to four is more reasonable. … But we don’t know what the market’s going to be. It’s a waiting game. When I hit the market and teams talk to me, we’ll see what’s going on then. But right now we can only estimate.

“And it’s even tougher with Chicago because we don’t even have a GM.”

Soriano, 35, has no-trade rights but said again he won’t stand in the way if the Cubs want to trade him.

“It depends what they want to do,” he said. “If something happens, it’s going to be the last year. But hope it isn’t. I have my place; my kids love [the city]. I love to play in Chicago, but who knows?’’

If this is it, Soriano finishes in Chicago with few regrets.

“I’m happy I signed with the Cubs because it’s a great organization,” he said. “I’m just sad because the last three years we didn’t perform like we were supposed to. … I signed there to try to make the World Series, make a champion. And things went the wrong way. But at the same time I enjoy playing the game, no matter what.’’

He especially has enjoyed the relationship he developed with fans in left field, he said, and the atmosphere at Wrigley — which makes the next six days all the more personal.

“I’m very happy with the five years,” he said. “All the negative things like my injuries and three years not making the playoffs — that’s part of the game. But after that, I’m very happy.”



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