With the Cubs now sporting a less-than-mediocre 30-31 record, Chicago fans are waiting - and seemingly wanting - for manager Lou Piniella to blow a gasket.

The normally hot-headed Piniella has remained relatively calm despite his team's middle-of-the-pack showing in the NL Central. That has led some to question the 65-year-old's competitive fire. That suggestion, at least, did bring out a little ire.

"What do I need to show fire for?" Piniella said. "I'm not a dragon."

The Cubbies have been a major disappointment, especially on offense. Yesterday's 4-1 loss to South-Side rival White Sox was a prime example. The hosts were held to five hits and managed only an eighth-inning run.

When will Piniella lose his temper, either on the field or on the locker room? Most would guess soon, but the skipper may have turned over a new leaf when it comes to mixing it up with the men in blue and chewing out his players.

"Look, if I was out there arguing all the time, what they would be saying is, 'Well, this guy has lost his cool,' " Piniella said. "I still want to win. I have it in my belly. I think the players obviously know that. I just have to let them play. I don't win baseball games. . . .

"I don't think by me going out there and kicking dirt and doing those things, it's going to get anybody fired up to play baseball. So we'll let them play, and that's the end of it."

Those anger-management classes must be working.

In Sosa's corner

Before yesterday's White Sox-Cubs matchup, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez weighed in on the New York Times' report alleging that Sammy Sosa was among the 104 major-league players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003.

"I played with him for two years and I never saw him do anything wrong," Ramirez told MLB.com. "Yeah, he was big, but everybody was back then. I don't think he did anything wrong."

A congressional committee plans to look into Sosa's denial that he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

"The Oversight and Government Reform Committee always takes seriously suggestions that a witness misled the committee while testifying under oath," said Rep. Edolphus Towns (D., N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In 2005, Sosa told Congress that he had never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

Comeback for Pedro?

Righthander Pedro Martinez said he has had talks with the Cubs and Tampa Bay Rays and hopes to sign a contract in the near future. Martinez, 37, ended a four-year deal with the New York Mets last season. He has a 214-99 record with an ERA of 2.91 in 17 seasons.