Ramirez: Piniella not to blame

PEORIA -- Chicago Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said Sunday that manager Lou Piniella is not to blame for the team's struggles this season.

"Lou's good, he knows what he's doing," Ramirez said after finishing his rehab stint with Class A Peoria. "He's been a good manager for [many] years, and he played the game, too.

"If anybody knows how to handle the club, it's Lou. As players, we haven't gotten it done."

Ramirez, who was rehabbing his injured left thumb, is one of several Cubs who have struggled this season. He will return to Chicago and fly with the team on Monday for a three-game road trip against the Seattle Mariners.

"It's up to the players," he said. "I don't think a manger wins games. All he does is make out the lineups and make a pitching change.

"We have to hit better, pitch better and field better. We have to get it done between the lines. We haven't done it yet."

Ramirez was perplexed about the defensive problems and mental mistakes that have plagued the Cubs this season.

"I don' know what's going on," he said. "We have good defensive players, but we haven't played good defense.

"It's embarrassing when you make as many mental mistakes as we have. We're big leaguers. That isn't supposed to happen to a veteran team. It's one thing to make physical errors, another to make mental errors. You have to be prepared mentally all the time."

Bruce Levine covers baseball for ESPNChicago.com.