Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

NL Central Watch: Aug. 5

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Here's a quick glance at what's happening around the National League Central.

Brewers manager Ned Yost faces a tough test to see how his team responds after a dugout battle between slugger Prince Fielder and pitcher Manny Parra. The day after Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano punched catcher Michael Barrett -- in a much more vicious attack on a teammate -- manager Lou Piniella staged a dirt-kicking tirade at third-base umpire Mark Wegner. It took the spotlight off his players and that's also when the Cubs' 2007 season turned for the better. Here's what Fielder had to say today.

The Brewers, who no longer are looking like a playoff contender, appear to be coming apart at the seams thanks to an extended slump with runners in scoring position.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has worked hard most of this season trying to rotate his players regularly to keep them fresh. Whatever he has done has worked well, considering the Cards weren't supposed to still be factors in the Central by August. Now, La Russa is switching gears, leaning hard on his hottest players down the stretch.

Here's what the Astros' Lance Berkman had to say about playing at Wrigley Field on a rainy Monday: '''I've never been more nervous on the field in my life. Growing up in Texas, you see those kinds of storms all the time. You learn that lightning is nothing to fool around with. I'll stand out there in a rain storm all day long. But thunder and lightning, in that kind of proximity, it's definitely a hazard.
''You have to get the fans out of there. We have to be out there. But if you give those fans a reason to hang around they will. I think tonight was a night where they needed to be discouraged from being outside in those kind of conditions.''

With his team battling to stay out of last place, Reds manager Dusty Baker issued a battle cry as his club faces the sinking Brewers: ''Never quit. Never say die. Never.'' Why is the former Cubs manager so optimistic? ''In our division, a lot can turn around in a hurry,'' Baker said. ''If you get hot, man, I've seen it. People think I'm the eternal optimist, but I can be that because I've seen that and done that.''

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on August 5, 2008 11:00 AM.

ESPN's Erin Andrews in the house was the previous entry in this blog.

NL Central Watch: Aug. 11 is the next entry in this blog.

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