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As if upgrading their team wasn't reason enough, Cubs officials could consider another benefit to promoting Mark Prior and Bobby Hill from the minors.
The specter of their arrivals has become an obvious distraction to a team that couldn't hold a three-run lead Thursday against the team with baseball's worst record.
"Between [Prior] and Bobby Hill, it seems like that's all we've heard about since spring training," said right-hander Jason Bere, who took the loss in the Brewers' 9-4 victory over the Cubs. "They're not here. And when they are, that might be a time to talk about it."
With second baseman Delino DeShields hitting .194 and pitchers dropping left and right, Cubs manager Don Baylor continues to talk about it.
"We need pitching," he said. "I can't continue to run [Ron] Mahay and [Jeff] Fassero and [Joe] Borowski out there every day."
A day after lefty Donovan Osborne was placed on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his right side, Carlos Zambrano had to leave the game with tightness in his right elbow and might need time on the DL.
The Cubs also are concerned about right-hander Juan Cruz's frame of mind. He fell to 0-6 Wednesday.
Baylor said that roster moves "have been discussed the last couple of days" and that it's "not a stretch at all" to figure Hill is close to a promotion.
Sammy Sosa, who hit another home run Thursday, was asked several times about pending roster moves.
"Everyone knows what we need right now," he said.
Publicly, at least, club President Andy MacPhail and top aide Jim Hendry are saying Prior and Hill need a bit more seasoning at Triple-A Iowa.
Of Prior, who gave up three hits over 72/3 innings Wednesday and struck out 10, MacPhail said: "He only has been pitching in professional baseball for a little more than a month. We're not going to leave him at a level where there's no challenge just for the sake of it, but we want to give as good a chance to succeed as we can."
Speaking of Hill, MacPhail said: "He's starting to get to the level where you would consider it.
You don't bring up a player when he's hitting .125 at Triple-A."
Hill got off to a rough start at Iowa and was hitting .161 on April 27. But he's batting .396 over his last 11 games with five doubles and 12 runs scored.
Hill ranks second in the Pacific Coast League with nine stolen bases. And he's 24 years old. So what is MacPhail waiting for?
"If things don't go well, you want to be able to look in the mirror and know you gave him every chance to be successful," he said.
MacPhail also might want to consider the success of the Cubs, who fell to 13-20 with another ugly loss Thursday.
After Fred McGriff's two-run double and Sosa's 15th homer gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead, Bere appeared in command.
But with a 3-1 lead in the sixth, he fell apart. Alex Sanchez started the rally with a one-hopper Bere couldn't handle.
"It was an easy play for him to make," Baylor said. "After that he started to elevate the ball."
Bere gave up a two-run homer to Richie Sexson on a changeup and left a curveball over the plate that Jose Hernandez ripped into the left-field bleachers.
"The sixth inning ended up ruining the day," Bere said.
It stung even more after the Cubs scored just once over the final five frames.
"We just can't get that knockout punch that we need," Baylor said.
The Cubs allowed the Brewers to improve their road record to 3-16. And their play fostered more talk of bringing in replacements from the minors.
"I think that's more for everyone else to read and talk about," Bere said. "When I go out, I don't pay attention to any of that, just like I don't care who pitched for Houston today. All I can concern myself with is what I need to do to help this team win."