Piniella returns to the dugout

Cubs manager Lou Piniella returned to his team Tuesday after spending three days in Tampa, Fla., attending his uncle’s funeral and dealing with the needs of his ailing 90-year-old mother.

Piniella admitted he didn’t have time to watch any baseball. That’s probably a good thing considering his team has given up 57 runs in the past five games, and, in the process, ran its losing streak to a season high six games.

Monday night the Cubs fell 14 games under .500 for the first time since 2006.

Piniella knows this team is going nowhere at this point. Still, his job is to keep his players focused and playing hard every day.

“It’s going out there and competing every day,” Piniella said. "It’s competing. Forget the wins and the losses. It’s going out there and competing every day and doing the best you possibly can. That’s the big part of being professionals.”

Piniella was candid about the young relief pitchers that he has watched come up and down between Chicago and Triple-A so far this season.

“What I’ve seen here, more than anything else, is the lack of a good second pitch,” Piniella said about the youngster. “That’s what I’ve seen. It’s hard to pitch up here with one pitch. You need two pitches. If you have three, even much the better. The second pitch is the one that has to improve. And that’s what Larry [Rothchild] has been working with as much as or more than anything else. One thing about major league hitters, most of them can hit the fastball. The vast majority can hit a fastball in a fastball count.”

Piniella also had this upadate on Carlos Silva who is be treated for unspecified heart issues at Northwestern by cardiologist Mark Upton.

“He’s going through some treatment today as we speak to try and find out what caused the defibluation,” Piniella said. “We’ll probably have more for you tomorrow or the next day.”

The Cubs’ manager has not talked to either Ryan Theriot or Ted Lilly since they were traded to L.A. on Saturday. But he did ask media relations director Peter Chase to get phone numbers for both players.

“They were two of my favorites,” he said. "Two outstanding young men. I had fun with both of them. I enjoyed seeing them play. I will talk to them.”

Piniella received word of the trade from interim manager Alan Trammel on Saturday after he arrived in Florida."