CHICAGO -- First baseman Bill Buckner could be the solution to the Chicago Cubs' pitching problems if he accepts a trade with one of three teams reportedly involved in trade talks.
'We are talking to three clubs (Boston, Kansas City and Oakland) and our club has told Buckner we have been talking to them,' Cub manager Jim Frey said following Chicago's three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves Thursday. 'No deal has been completed yet.'
The left-handed Buckner, who has been riding the bench for most of this season under a reorganization of the Cubs, shaved his beard between games of Thursday's double-header even though he vowed not to shave unless he played two games in a row.
'I had a dream last night that I played two games in a row,' Buckner joked in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
His shaving immediately sparked speculation that Buckner would soon be traded to another team in return for a badly needed pitcher to bolster the Cubs' pitching staff.
Buckner, who has been with the Cubs for more than five years but lost his starting spot at first base when hot-hitting Leon Durham was moved over from right field, would have to approve any trade.
'The Cubs have not called me,' said Buckner's attorney, Pete Stahl. 'Bill has the right to decide on whatever he wants to do.'
Boston was rumored to be the leading contender to snare Buckner in exchange for right-hander Dennis Eckersley. The Red Sox, however, have thus far rejected the Cubs' additional request for a young minor league prospect.
In addition, Buckner has not appeared thrilled with the idea of joining the American League East Division team.
'They're 17 games behind (Detroit),' Buckner told the Chicago Sun-Times. 'That's not too exciting.'
Buckner, however, would like to get back on the field. The former National League batting champion and 10-year major league veteran has been relegated to a pinch-hitting role even though he has repeatedly expressed his desire to play every day.
The Cubs, in the meantime, would like to acquire a starting pitcher to fill in for the ailing Dick Ruthven, 33, who underwent surgery Wednesday on his right pitching shoulder.
Cub general manager Dallas Green described the surgery as not 'career threatening' but admitted Ruthven would have a lengthy recovery.