Piniella content with status quo
Barring trade, Cubs manager decides to stick with lineup
MESA, Ariz. -- One day after thinking out loud about tweaking the Cubs' lineup, Lou Piniella decided not to make any adjustments. However, that could change depending on whether or not the team makes a deal in the final week of Spring Training.
On Friday, Piniella said he was considering moving Kosuke Fukudome into the No. 2 spot from fifth, which would result in a 3-4-5 combination of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. But the result would be all right-handed hitters from the third through seventh spots, and Piniella decided he didn't want that, either.
"I thought about it last night, and I think right now, the way we're situated, I think Fukudome offers the best protection for Ramirez," Piniella said Saturday. "I know that probably the two-hole is more suitable for [Fukudome], but right now, the way we're put together, I just feel Ramirez out of the four-hole will have more protection with Fukudome hitting behind him."
The key phrase may be "the way we're put together." The Cubs have been trying to add another bat, and not just the long-rumored Brian Roberts deal. There has been an attempt to add another center fielder to help back up Felix Pie.
"Unless a deal is made, we're just going to continue on that course, and see what happens," Piniella said. "The problem is if something's not working, I get paid to find solutions and then you have to tinker some. I would prefer to stay as constant as possible, and that's really what I think we'll do."
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry has been busy working the phones.
"You just don't rush into things, and we're being prudent," Piniella said, "but we're getting to the point where there's not too much left here in Spring Training and we have to make some decisions, and not only in the rotation, but the bullpen and with our bench. I think it would be a wise thing to put everybody in their roles and let them go. Whatever happens on the trade front is going to happen. We're preparing here as if nothing is going to happen."
In a perfect world, Piniella would like everything settled before the truck carrying players' gear heads north to Chicago. That will be Wednesday.
The decisions regarding the bench may come down to the wire. Ronny Cedeno, Mike Fontenot and Alex Cintron are all utility infielders, and of the group, only Cedeno is out of options. Cintron has been sidelined with a hamstring injury and was not available Saturday. The Cubs will likely carry two of the three.
Fontenot has been impressive at shortstop.
"I think it's just a comfort level -- once you get over there and get that first ball out of the way, it's just playing baseball, like usual," Fontenot said.
The key for him will be whether Ryan Theriot lets his former LSU infield teammate play shortstop. Fontenot and Theriot were the middle-infield combo for the Tigers when they won the College World Series in 2000.
"That's what I want to do is get out there and give guys a spell and do whatever I can," Fontenot said. "I figure I can play different positions, and it always helps you get here and helps you stay here. I'm trying to be open with it and I'll play wherever."
What's tough is that players like Micah Hoffpauir and Casey McGehee have had terrific springs, but will likely be left off the 25-man roster because there just isn't room.
"I just don't see how," Piniella said. "I guess maybe I'm too truthful, and maybe that's something I haven't learned. I believe in being truthful as opposed to leading on, and it's been a great experience for them, but I don't see how we can carry them, especially carrying 12 pitchers."
The plan still is to have the rotation and the bullpen set by Monday. The majority of the final roster decisions will be made by then, as well.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.