Lou Answers The Leadoff Question, Again
Both Gordon Wittenmyer and Paul Sullivan are reporting that Alfonso Soriano will return to the Cub lineup without an intervening rehab assignment and that, according to the manager, Soriano will also step right back into the leadoff role upon his return, on or around May 1st.
Alfonso Soriano won't be hopping down the rehab-assignment trail, but
he will jump right back into the Cubs' leadoff spot when he returns
from the disabled list in another week, manager Lou Piniella said
''We want to make sure that he can do all the things that a leadoff
hitter needs to do,'' Piniella said. ''We don't want to take any
chances here early in the year, bringing him back too soon, and all of
a sudden we've got another problem on our hands.
''But, yeah, when he comes back, he'll go to left field and lead off.''
Sullivan of the Tribune, obviously sitting in on the same Q&A with Lou, offers a slighly more nuanced report:
...when asked if he planned to insert Soriano back into the leadoff
spot next week, Piniella paused for a few seconds before giving his
"Yeah, we'll put him back in left field and lead him off," he said. "We
want to make sure he can do all the things a leadoff hitter needs to
do. We don't really want to take any chances here early in the year of
bringing him back too soon, and all of a sudden we have another problem
on our hands.
Lou seems to pause at least a few seconds before answering most questions, but what I'm going to read into this particular pause--and the reason, I think, that Sullivan even chose to characterize Piniella's answer that way--is that Lou is leaving himself the latitude to declare upon Soriano's return that in order to ease him back into the flow of things, the Cubs will be moving him down in the order, at least temporarily.
Arguably, this would accomplish two things:
- Protect Soriano from pushing himself too hard and reinjuring the calf.
- Minimize the disruption to a lineup that has shown the ability to score many, many runs, even without Soriano in the mix.
For the record, here's what our various leadoff men have done so far in 2008:
|Leadoff Man||PA's as #1
Forgive the question in the middle of a fabulous hot streak in which the Cubs have looked positively fearsome and supremely confident--did anyone doubt they were going to come back from that 5-3 deficit last night in Denver?--but wouldn't Brian Roberts still look awfully handsome in blue and red?