ATLANTA -- As the Cubs prepared for Friday night's game, they were reminded that baseball is indeed just that -- a game -- getting a major dose of perspective about an hour and a half before first pitch.
Cliff Floyd, originally penciled in to start in right field and bat fourth Friday night, was a last-minute scratch and left the team to fly home to Chicago to tend to his ailing father.
The Cubs put Floyd on the bereavement list, meaning that the earliest he can return to action is Monday night's makeup game with Houston at Wrigley Field.
Shortstop Mike Fontenot, who turns 27 on Saturday, will be called up from Triple-A Iowa to replace Floyd and spend his birthday with the Cubs in Atlanta. Fontenot, who is currently fourth in the Pacific Coast League in hitting with a .343 average in 53 games, has played in nine Major League games, including two against the Mets in mid-May, when he went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored.
Ironically, Cubs manager Lou Piniella talked before the game about the possibility of bringing up another infielder, specifically Fontenot, to shore up the depleted infield with the injury to third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
"If we looked at another infielder here, the kid would be Fontenot," said Piniella. "We brought him up once for a couple of days. He's played really well down there since he's gone back. I would think that would be the kid that we would bring up."
Aramis still wait and see: Ramirez joined the team in Atlanta and was in uniform Friday night, but, while his status was officially uncertain, his chances of appearing in this series weren't good.
"His knee is sore," said Piniella. "He's going to start getting his treatment and once the trainer gets a good look at him, we'll get a better handle. He's available to pinch-hit, but I don't think he'll play this series, and [he will be back] probably some time the middle part of next week."
While Ramirez was pronounced available to pinch-hit, Piniella declared it would only be in an "emergency-only" situation.
"Obviously we don't want him to re-aggravate it," said the Cubs skipper. "And, in the smallest of instances, if we had to DL him then we could back-date it. But I don't think it will come to that at all."