Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday, rejoining the Chicago Cubs after a two-month absence Monday because of a dislocated left shoulder.
Ramirez, who has six 100-RBI seasons over the previous eight years, injured the shoulder diving for a ball during a game in Milwaukee on May 8.
"It's OK, but not 100 percent," Ramirez said before the Cubs began a three-game series with the Atlanta Braves. "Believe me, if I wasn't good enough to play, I wouldn't play."
Ramirez, who tuned up with three minor league rehab games over the weekend, was batting fifth in the Cubs' lineup Monday night. During his absence, Chicago has often struggled to get big hits and score runs.
"I knew I was going to come back. I just didn't know when," he said. "I never have any pressure. We were struggling. One guy doesn't make a team."
He also acknowledged there is a chance he will need surgery in the offseason.
"It is still a possibility. I'm going to try to work hard and get my shoulder strong so I can avoid it," Ramirez said.
Ramirez said the biggest test of pain is when he swings the bat, but there is also the chance he might have to dive for another ball.
"I talked to the trainer about playing him closer or off the line. Either way the problem can recur," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We'll just play him normal and hopefully he won't have to dive."
Even though the Cubs have played better the last two weeks, winning five of seven, the addition of Ramirez should perk up the offense, if for no other reason than the protection he gives to other hitters like Derrek Lee.
"The big thing with him is like I told him, `Don't try to come in and carry. Just be yourself and do what you're capable of and we'll be very happy with it,'" Piniella said.
Before being injured, Ramirez batted .364 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 18 games.
The Cubs also activated outfielder Reed Johnson and right-hander Angel Guzman from the 15-day disabled list Monday. They optioned right-hander Kevin Hart and outfielder Sam Fuld to Triple-A Iowa and put right-hander David Patton on the 15-day DL with a right groin strain.
Earlier Monday, they traded infielder Ryan Freel to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named.
Johnson was put on the DL June 25 with lower back spasms and is batting .268 with four homer and 16 RBIs in 43 games.
Guzman is 2-1 with a save and a 2.53 ERA in 28 relief appearances for the Cubs. He landed on the disabled list with a strained right triceps June 21.
Hart, recalled June 21, had a 1.59 ERA in four games for Chicago. Fuld batted .364 in six games for the Cubs since he was recalled June 29. Patton is 3-1 with a 5.63 ERA in 17 relief appearances for Cubs.