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"Who, us?"

          Cody Ross is clueless when it comes to the standings. The outfielder said he had no idea the Cody_ross Marlins were a) in first place in the National League East and b) owned the best record in the majors. Serious.

          "I know we've been playing well," Ross said. "And I knew we were close (in the NL East standings), like maybe within a half a game of the Phillies."

         Actually, the Marlins began the day Monday with a three-game lead on Philadelphia and New York in the East. Ross said he doesn't read the papers, turns the volume down when he watches baseball on television, and would prefer not to know where the Marlins sit relative to the rest of the league, thank you very much.

        "I'll start paying attention around the middle of June," he said.


               The injury report remains pretty much the same:

        -- Josh Willingham (back) took some cuts on flip throws inside the batting cage on Monday but is still a ways off from returning to action. This much is certain: he won't be emerging from the disabled list on Tuesday when his 15 days are up. And when he does signal the green light, he'll be headed to the minors for rehab work When that is is anyone's guess.

       -- Mike Jacobs (left quadriceps muscle) continues to remain on the bench. He took early BP on Monday and said he's starting to get around a little better, enough so that manager Fredi Gonzalez said he could go to Jacobs as a pinch-hitter. But Wes Helms was back at first base.

      -- Reliever Lee Gardner, out since mid-April with right elbow inflammation, has resumed light throwing, but no timetable has been given on his return.


      Tony Perez never misses a trip to Cincy, where the former Red still ranks with the fans (the guy The_big_bopper who cut my hair today proclaimed him "one of the most beloved players in Reds history.") Perez, now the special assistant to Marlins president David Samson, was back in town on Monday and had lunch with "The Big Bopper." No, not that Big Bopper, the one who went down in the 1959 plane crash ("the day the music died") with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. The Reds had their own: first baseman Lee May, who ended his career with 354 bops -- er, home runs.


     The Reds traded May to Houston in 1971 to acquire Joe Morgan and shift Perez from third to first.

Time to check out for a bit. It's time to play ball.