[As the Cubs depart for St. Louis, some thoughts on the Gateway to the West from Captain Redneck, Dick Murdoch.]

First, my thanks to Reds manager Dusty Baker for picking the Cubs to win the division before proceeding to beat the North Siders today 7-1, and taking 2 of 3 in the Reds first 2009 series at Wrigley.   Zambrano actually did OK until a bad pickoff attempt led to a Cincinnati unearned run.  After that, you could feel the Cubs unravel.  Today’s bullpen humor included Neal Cotts, Aaron Heilman, and Jeff Samardzija. Called in to close after a stay in the Iowa AAA corn, Samardzija promptly gave away 2 insurance runs on a day when most Trib employees are scrambling to keep their coverage.


[Sully, waiting for Bradley to emerge from his meeting.]

Yes, 53 other Chicago Tribune workers are getting pinkslips.  And to add insult to their injury, in a Ted Baxter moment, Cub beat reporter Paul Sullivan is keeping his job.  Sully demonstrates why, via his genius for turning hot air into hot button news, with today’s coverage of the sit-down between Milton Bradley and Lou Piniella.  Sully makes Bradley out an eccentric in sentence one, noting MB’s entrance in nothing but a white towel wrapped around his waist and a blue towel covering his head.”  Apparently, Pinieilla told Bradley, a frequently injured player, he’s benched until he’s 100% healthy.   From the mgr who got a full season out of Rich Harden, this isn’t too surprising.  Still, just how bad does Sullivan want to see Bradley spanked?    Sully drama-queens this ten minute meeting into  a seminal moment” for the team, headlined: “Cubs’ Piniella lays down the law to Milton Bradley.”  Read Sully’s breathless account here:

So what did Piniella have to say?

That Bradley will sit until he’s 100 percent, that he will run out ground balls, and that he’ll be moved down to the No. 6 hole when he eventually returns to the lineup.

In what could be a seminal moment in the Cubs’ 2009 season, Bradley got his first real lesson of Life under Lou.

Asked about the nice chat, Piniella gave a CliffsNotes version of the meeting:

“I had a conversation with Milton. He’s not 100 percent. When he’s 100 percent I’ll put him out there to play. Until then, I’ll use (Reed) Johnson and I’ll use (Micah) Hoffpauir in the outfield.”

Bradley did not run hard on a grounder in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game, and did not go hard after a pop foul. He was booed twice by fans and blew off the media afterward. Piniella was asked if Bradley’s not running hard was what put him over the edge.

“Nothing has put me over the edge,” he replied. “I don’t play people unless they’re totally healthy. That’s been my M.O. throughout my managerial career. With Milton, when he’s ready to play, we’ll put him out there.

“I told him basically that I’m going to take him out of the fourth hole when he gets back and put him in the sixth hole, where he’ll be a little more comfortable. And we’ll go from there. But when I get him out there, I expect him to run hard and play hard, the way he always has.”

Was Bradley understanding of the move?

“Yeah, he was understanding, yes,” Piniella replied.