Notes: Marquis, Piniella patch things up
Right-hander says they had 'miscommunication' over role
PHOENIX -- The focus for Jason Marquis on Thursday was baseball.
After his first outing on March 1, Marquis had said if there wasn't a fit in the Cubs' rotation that he would take his services elsewhere. Manager Lou Piniella wasn't happy to hear that, but the two talked the next day and peace was restored.
"Me and Lou spoke the next day and it was just a miscommunication of words and everything is behind us, and it's back to pitching and baseball," Marquis said.
The "miscommunication" was apparently because the two hadn't spoken face to face.
"I wanted to talk to him in person and make sure we were on the same page, and that's about it," Marquis said.
On Thursday, Marquis pitched well, giving up four hits and one walk over three scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics.
"It's early in camp," Marquis said. "I have faith in my ability. I'm going to go out there every time I take the ball and try to get outs and get better and work on things that will help me get through the season, and that's what it comes down to. Hopefully, I'll get the ball a few more times this spring and I can show I belong."
Spring fling: Who says Spring Training games don't count? Lou Piniella has been frustrated after losses.
"It's gotten sloppy in some of these games," Piniella said Thursday. "Whether you're playing your regular team or backup team, you hope to play better baseball. [On Wednesday], we had two double-play chances and didn't turn either.
"The pitchers who need to pitch well to impress are the ones who are struggling," he said. "[Carlos] Zambrano, [Rich] Hill, they don't need to pitch well and they're pitching well. You look at the reverse side. Guys who need to pitch well to impress are doing the struggling."
Piniella had hinted he would take over when pitchers would get into games, but said Thursday he had talked to pitching coach Larry Rothschild, and both decided it's too early to be concerned with roles.
"We don't even get lineup changes or anything else," he said. "For all we know, an opposing team could change uniforms and use the same guy twice -- not that it happens. It's possible."
Aches and pains: Alfonso Soriano was able to play catch on Wednesday and was hitting in the batting cages on Thursday. If all goes well, Soriano could get into games early next week. He's been sidelined with a nondisplaced fracture in a finger on his right hand.
Reliever Scott Eyre was slated to pitch Thursday, but was sent home because he had the flu.
Konnichiwa: As Kosuke Fukudome was getting ready to hit in batting practice Thursday, Piniella walked over to give him a scouting report on Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez.
"Left-handed," Piniella said. "[He throws] 99 miles an hour, good slider, Cy Young winner."
Fukudome just smiled.
"I didn't have a good day at the plate because of that," he said after the game through interpreter Ryuji Araki.
In the game, the Japanese outfielder was called out on strikes against Gonzalez, but drew a walk to lead off the fourth against Greg Smith and then scored on Daryle Ward's double.
Is he fast?
"I'm sure I'm not slow," Fukudome said.
As for his bats, Fukudome is still trying to figure out a way to keep them from drying out. The bats, made of tamo wood, a Japanese ash, are breaking quite a bit this spring because of the dry Arizona weather.
Arms race: Michael Wuertz struck out two of the three batters he faced on Wednesday in his first game action of the spring.
"It's been a good thing to take that little bit of extra time," the right-hander said.
Wuertz's best pitch is his slider, but he's not as worried about that as he is about his fastball.
"For me, it's locating my fastball," Wuertz said. "If I'm able to do that, then my slider comes off that. Everything seemed to work really well yesterday, and I was happy with the results. I have to keep taking that next step forward and keep executing pitches."
Chad Fox didn't have as good a first outing on Tuesday against Milwaukee. The right-hander gave up two runs on three hits and one walk in one inning. But Fox, pitching in a game for the first time since April 2005, looked at it as a positive step. He didn't know if he'd ever get in a game again because of problems with his right elbow.
"As long as I walk off that mound healthy and knowing I'm competing, I'm happy," Fox said. "I've got to take each outing one at a time. It was huge for me -- I took a lot of positives out of that. The fact is I'm back out there, and that to me is most important."
Extra bases: The Cubs' front office was to meet after Thursday's game to discuss roster cuts. ... Who's the leader so far in the battle between Felix Pie and Sam Fuld for the center-field job? "Pie's in front. He's got more experience," Piniella said. ... Rich Hill walked the bases loaded Wednesday in his first inning of work against Arizona. He looked at it as a learning experience. "It's a challenge to get through things like that and get through the innings," Hill said. "It's a positive -- it's a good thing it happened. It really was good to see -- you walk three guys in a row, OK, how are you going to get out of this? I pretty much did." He did give up one run, but might have escaped that if he had stepped on first in time to complete a double play. ... Jose Ceda, who spent most of last season at Class A Peoria, gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in one-third of an inning Thursday. It's unlikely he'll make the big league team. "That's asking a kid a lot to jump from A-ball to the big leagues," Piniella said. ... Casey McGehee wasn't feeling too good Thursday. He's battling allergies. "I'm allergic to grass," McGehee said. Maybe he should only play on artificial turf?
On deck: The Cubs play host to the Seattle Mariners Friday at HoHoKam Park as Ted Lilly makes his second spring start. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is expected to be in the Cubs' lineup for the first time this spring. Ramirez has been sidelined with a sore right shoulder.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.