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Cubs believe bunting will improve

By Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune –

PHILADELPHIA — The Cubs’ inaugural bunting tournament in spring training was a rousing success.

The results, however, haven’t translated into the regular season despite the best of intentions.

“We haven’t had a lot of opportunities,” manager Dale Sveum said. Matt “Garza got his down the other day. We’ve had a couple of missed signs with other guys who actually were supposed to hit and run. (Ryan) Dempster’s always going to be good with his.

“(Chris) Volstad ended up getting the guy over after messing the bunts up. All you can do is work on it. Sometimes it’s different for people when they get in the games. You can do all you want on 50-mph (batting-practice pitches), but you have to get your nose in there to be a good bunter.”

The Cubs have only five sacrifices, including two apiece from Jeff Samardzija and Tony Campana, who got the first hit off Roy Halladay on Friday with a drag bunt and a head-first slide. Campana is better when bunting for hits than trying to sacrifice.

“He has to get better at what he’s good at, which is bunting one way sometimes,” Sveum said. “When he tries to go the other way, he’s not as successful. He has to understand that he’s so fast it doesn’t matter.”

Wood update: Kerry Wood threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Friday, using all his pitches, and is slated to throw a simulated game Monday in Philadelphia.

Sveum mentioned the possibility of a minor league rehab stint last week, but that idea was nixed. If all goes well, Sveum said Wood could return from the disabled list Thursday in Cincinnati. In Wood’s absence, James Russell and Rafael Dolis have carried the load, albeit with few late-inning leads to protect.

Extra innings: Samardzija was moved back in the rotation one day and will start Tuesday in Cincinnati, with Volstad going Monday in Philadelphia. … The Cubs rank fourth in the National League in paid average home attendance, though there have been thousands of no-shows the first two homestands. … Sveum said Dempster is on track to return from the disabled list May 2. He said he didn’t know if Randy Wells will move to the bullpen then or return to starting at Triple-A Iowa.

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