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Freel gives Cubs some infield help


Freel gives Cubs some infield help
MILWAUKEE ? The Cubs didn?t view Joey Gathright as a superfluous piece when they signed him in December. But that?s what Gathright turned out to be, so general manager Jim Hendry dealt him Friday to the Baltimore Orioles for infielder-outfielder Ryan Freel.

The 33-year-old Freel is a longtime Hendry favorite from Freel?s days with the Cincinnati Reds. He was on Baltimore?s disabled list because of a head injury and had quickly become disenchanted with what looked to be a very limited role with the Orioles.

Although Freel is making $4 million and Gathright is making only $800,000, the money becomes a wash for the Cubs because the Orioles are picking up the difference in salaries.

The Cubs had become top-heavy in the outfield and thin with their infield depth, and Hendry and field manager Lou Piniella feel that Freel helps balance things.

"We?ve always liked Ryan," Hendry said. "Hopefully, he?ll come back and be the player that he was before. We had a few of our scouts see him, and they felt like he could help. It just became apparent that we would be better off with a little more versatility.

The Cubs outrighted Gathright to Class AAA Iowa. He accepted the assignment, and they traded him. Freel is expected to join the Cubs today, and they?ll have to make a corresponding roster move. They?ll have to put third baseman Aramis Ramirez on the DL after Ramirez dislocated his left shoulder Friday night.

Freel is a lifetime .271 hitter with an on-base percentage of .357. He has played five different positions in his career: all three outfield spots, third base and second base.

The Cubs liked Gathright?s speed and athleticism when they signed him, but with Kosuke Fukudome bouncing back and Micah Hoffpauir hitting well, there was little room for him.

Freel played in only 9 games after being struck with a pickoff throw on April 20. The Orioles acquired him in the off-season from the Reds.

Injury updates: Derrek Lee (neck) was not in Friday?s lineup, but he expressed optimism he could play tonight.

Pitcher Carlos Zambrano (hamstring) threw on the outfield grass, and Lou Piniella said Zambrano may throw a bullpen session in the middle of next week.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 12, 2009

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