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Early injury may give Chad Tracy opportunity

Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is struggling to get back on the field after nearly two weeks of lingering tricep issues. He is hitting .300 in 20 at-bats this spring, but has struck out five times to zero walks.

It's worth noting that Ramirez missed nearly two months last season after dislocating his intermittently problematic right shoulder. Ramirez did not have any offseason surgery, opting for a conservative strengthening program. One key to protecting his shoulder is proper function of all the muscles on both sides of the joint, which includes the triceps. Ramirez did manage to suit up Saturday for some minor league play as a designated hitter and got one hit in five at-bats. 

Fortunately, the Cubs signed Chad Tracy this offseason to a minor league deal. As expected, Tracy has filled in nicely at first and third, especially with Ramirez sidelined.

In 32 at-bats this spring, Tracy owns a .281 batting average with a .378 on-base percentage. Tracy's first three seasons were his best, but since he has hit .256 and averaged 252 at-bats per season.  

You can bet that the Cubs will ease Ramirez in to a full workload in April, considering he is only a .270 career hitter in April, his lowest monthly average during the season. If Tracy can prove to be a solid spot starter, he could find himself getting around 300 at-bats in 2010.