– All but two of the Cubs were able to make it through the first weekend of Spring Training without requiring the attention of a cardiologist or getting beaten up by a panhandler.

The exceptions were Mark DeRosa and Jose Ascanio.

DeRosa flew back to Chicago Monday to see a cardiologist after he experienced an irregular heartbeat on Saturday and spent Saturday night in a Mesa hospital.

According to Carrie Muskat's story at cubs.com, DeRosa has been aware of the irregular heartbeat since he was a teenager.

"I went through a gamut of tests when I was in high school to make sure it was nothing serious," (DeRosa) said. "It's never been a problem. I've been able to have certain techniques over the years that have got me out of the situation. It's never been an issue.

"The other day, it didn't get progressively worse but just lasted a lot longer," DeRosa said. "I needed some help to get me back to the right heartbeat. That's why the precautions were taken to go over to the hospital."

DeRosa expects the Chicago cardiologist to prescribe medication or recommend an unspecified "outpatient procedure" to help him deal with the problem.

Ascanio, meanwhile, was thumped outside a Scottsdale convenience store on Saturday night "by a guy who was looking for some money," according to Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

Ascanio's face and left eye were swollen after the incident and he was held out of workouts on Sunday. His status is day to day.

– Here's a swell Web site: Greg Rybarczyk's Hit Tracker, which lists the "true distance" of every Major League home run.

Rybarczyk, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering, determined that Aramis Ramirez hit the longest home run in all of Major League Baseball last season, a 495-foot shot off the Pirates' Paul Maholm on September 21st. Matt Murton had the Cubs' second longest homer of the year, a 449-foot blast off the Astros' Dave Borkowski on August 7th in Houston.

What makes the site doubly swell is the way Rybarczyk classifies each home run as "Just Enough," "No Doubt," or "Plenty" and tabulates the homers within each category. Alfonso Soriano paced the Cubs with 9 No Doubts in 2007; Derrek Lee led the team with 8 Just Enoughs.

What makes the site triply swell is that it offers links to mlb.com so you can see video footage of each longball.

– I'm no mechanical engineer, but by my calculations, this past weekend will be the last weekend without Cubs baseball until the conclusion of the regular season, the weekend of Sept. 27-28. Of course, the date will be even later if the Cubs are able to make the...oh, forget it.

I'm not going to risk jinxing it.


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