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Cubs not worried after Ramirez leaves game

MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Cubs manager Lou Piniella says he's far more concerned about what his pitching staff will look like in three weeks than about Chicago third baseman Aramis Ramirez having to leave a spring game with right triceps soreness.

"There's nothing wrong," Piniella said of Ramirez, who missed nearly two months last season with a separated left shoulder. "He'll be ready in a couple of days."

Ramirez was replaced Saturday by Bryan LaHair, whose three-run, fifth-inning homer off Micah Owings ignited a Cubs split squad to an 11-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

"Micah threw good except when he walked the little guy (Darwin Barney) to get to the big guy (LaHair)," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "That changed the whole momentum. We have to continue to talk about (not issuing walks)."

Owings is one of several pitchers contending for the No. 5 spot in Cincinnati's rotation.

Piniella also is looking for a fifth starter. A No. 4 starter, too, at least until Ted Lilly recovers completely from offseason shoulder surgery. The bullpen is on the manager's mind as well.

Sean Marshall, who gave up one run and two hits in three innings Saturday, wants to start but has pitched much better out of the bullpen during his four seasons with the Cubs.

"I've always started but in the last couple years I've mixed into the swing role and I don't mind it," Marshall said. "I definitely enjoy getting the ball in big-game situations, whether it's a start or a couple outs in relief."

When Piniella was asked about young hitters who have been productive in exhibitions but are unlikely to make the team, he said: "What I look for now is our starting pitching. That's the focal point. We've got to make a decision in the next ... it can't be more than 10 days."

There's a good chance that Tom Gorzelanny, who has been almost exclusively a starter during his career, will be the lefty in the rotation and Marshall will pitch in relief. Righties Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Silva are vying for the other rotation spot.

Only after that's settled can Piniella figure out his bullpen.

For the Reds, No. 4 starter Homer Bailey allowed one run and three hits in three strong innings Saturday.

Once a hyped prospect, Bailey has been surpassed in that department by Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman — one of the pitchers competing with Owings.

"I don't know what the plans are for that fifth spot, and it's none of my business," Bailey said. "I'm glad I'm done with that (being hyped). Now we can just focus on the game itself and results."

Two homers by Juan Francisco helped the Reds go up 4-1 before LaHair tied it. Bobby Scales' first hit of the spring, an RBI double in the sixth, gave the Cubs the lead for good.

NOTES: Although Piniella said Lilly was "ahead of schedule," the manager still isn't counting on the All-Star to pitch before May. Piniella added: "We want to keep him under the radar gun and not talk much about it." Famous for his malapropos, the manager meant "under the radar." ... Reds 2B Brandon Phillips went 0 for 2 and is hitless in 14 spring at-bats.