Expect the Cubs to try to schedule first baseman Derrek Lee's five-game suspension appeal as the team nears the end of next week, allowing Lee to remain in action at least through the upcoming series with Colorado and Milwaukee before serving his five-game penalty beginning July 2.
With the Rockies and Brewers contending heavily for the pennant, Lee's big bat will be essential through next Sunday. But Lee will be much more expendable beginning the following Monday when lowly Washington and Pittsburgh are on the schedule.
Lee's hearing might not be set before Thursday's travel day if not later.
Lee will attempt to convince Major League Baseball that his suspension should be reduced from five days to three, based on precedents for penalties imposed for on-field violence.
Lots of luck. The league's New York brass has not looked forgivingly on Lee's throwing of hard punches at San Diego pitcher Chris Young, even though Young was not seriously hurt. The issue can hardly be considered a small matter.