How's this for a reversal of fortune? Or fortunes?
With the July 31 trading deadline fast approaching, the Pittsburgh Pirates look to be buyers while the Cubs figure to be sellers.
The surprising Pirates outlasted the Cubs 7-4 Friday night at PNC Park with catcher Michael McKenry hitting a 3-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning against Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. The Pirates scored 4 that inning to erase a 4-3 deficit.
With the victory, the small-market Pirates improved to 46-42 while the big-market Cubs fell to 36-54.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry rejoined the team on this leg of the trip, and he talked with reporters in Pittsburgh before the game.
Essentially, he reiterated his comments of the last homestand that the Cubs would not be conducting any "fire sales." However, it's not out of the question Hendry will be dealing.
"I've had a few calls about our players that we aren't going to move," Hendry told reporters. "I think (the talks were) very friendly, they were just taking a shot. (They said), 'Didn't think you would, but we're taking a shot.' ... That's usually the way that is.
"It's just normal banter, when you're having a bad first half like we've had, that people just think you back up the truck and start moving bodies out. It's not a question of having to move money. We'll try to do things that make logical sense, and hopefully we do make some moves."
According to reports, Hendry said the long-term focus would not change.
"No matter what happens, it doesn't change the focus of what we are trying to do over the next month," he told reporters. "Everything we do will be designed to get better and moving forward. There won't be pieces moved that will be integral parts of the club a year from now."
One player drawing media attention is third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He hit his 15th home run of the season in the first inning to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead against Pirates starting pitcher James McDonald. Ramirez continues to be the team's hottest hitter. He ended up going 2-for-4 and raising his batting average to .300.
The Cubs have a $16 million option on Ramirez for next year.
"At the right time, Aramis and I will have chats moving forward," Hendry said in at least one published report. "We'll handle it like I always do. He's been a real good player for a long time and been really hot the last 3-4 weeks."
The Cubs got some good news on the injury front Friday. Pitcher Ryan Dempster will start Saturday night's game after missing a turn because of "core" issues. Reliever Marcos Mateo was diagnosed with a strained right forearm, but there was no damage to his elbow, the Cubs said. Mateo is expected to miss about 4-5 weeks.