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Win 'sweet' for surprise Cubs callup

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published August 20, 2006


With all the negativity, whining and big-timing that goes on in major-league baseball, here's a story that should make you smile.

After the Cubs used all 25 players in Tuesday's 18-inning victory at Houston, the team told minor-league pitcher Ryan O'Malley to get to Minute Maid Park. He was going to start Wednesday against the Astros.

O'Malley, 26, had never even been a nonroster invitee to a big-league camp. But Triple-A Iowa was playing in nearby Round Rock and, better yet, O'Malley was scheduled to pitch.

The left-hander worked eight shutout innings and bested Andy Pettitte in a 1-0 victory.

"Oh, man," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said after the game, "that was sweet."

"He had good command of his fastball," said catcher Michael Barrett, whose home run gave O'Malley the win. "His changeup worked well with it. They hit some hard balls, but they were right at people."

O'Malley found fault with his six walks.

"That's my strength, not walking guys," he said. "But I wasn't going to give in. The umpire might have had a different strike zone (than in Triple A), but I wasn't going to give in."

O'Malley said he tries to model himself after White Sox starter Mark Buehrle and "a left-handed" Greg Maddux.

O'Malley isn't guaranteed another start as the Cubs have plenty of rookie starters, but he was thrilled to be with the team on the plane ride back to Chicago.

Asked if he brought enough clothes for the trip, he said, "Oh, yes, definitely. I'm not going to let my clothes get in the way of this."

BACK TO REALITY: Dallas Green is a former Phillies manager and the team's senior adviser. A few weeks ago, he decide to go on a local radio show and rip Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel.

As the Philadelphia's Daily News reported, Manuel approached Green on the field before Tuesday's game and got in his face.

"I felt like I needed to say something, and I did," Manuel told the newspaper. "The things he said bothered me. I felt like he didn't support me or my staff."

Green, who managed the Phillies to their only World Series title in 1980, said: "I don't give a (hoot). He's entitled to say what he wants. I'm entitled to say what I want. He got some things off his chest."

MORE IDIOTS: The Daily News also reported that about a month ago, the Phillies made slugging first baseman Ryan Howard aware of a letter in which the writer threatened to shoot Howard and cripple him.

"He said he wouldn't kill me. He'd put me in a wheelchair," Howard said. "It didn't bother me. If he's writing letters like that, that dude's got bigger problems than me."

THE LONG HAUL: Despite his tenuous relationship with owner Jeffrey Loria, Marlins manager Joe Girardi apparently has unanimous support.

When the South Florida Sun-Sentinel polled Florida players and coaches about the possibility of Girardi being fired or leaving to manage the Cubs, the response was consistent.

"Without a doubt, he's won the respect of everybody," reliever Matt Herges said. "I don't think there's one player in here that's really unhappy, and that's so hard to do at the major-league level. I don't know if it's even possible."

Added catcher Matt Treanor: "He's a candidate for manager of the year, so, just saying that, it would be hard to bring someone else in to follow his act."

MISCELLANY: Remember Kansas City pitcher Zack Greinke, who left spring training to seek psychiatric counseling? The 22-year-old is making a solid comeback with the Royals' Double-A affiliate in Wichita, going 7-2 with a 4.36 ERA in his first 15 starts. He had a 7.62 ERA after his first six starts. . . . Good line from Padres catcher Mike Piazza, who left Monday's game with the Giants after his notoriously weak throwing arm was hit by a pitch: "It went numb on impact. I couldn't throw. Not that I could throw anyway." . . . The Cardinals were swept by the Pirates last weekend at PNC Park after going 34-12 there the previous six seasons. . . . Speaking of St. Louis, the team is 28-32 against the Central Division after Saturday's loss to the Cubs. It was 51-29 last season. . . . The White Sox have not had a position player on the disabled list this season.