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?
They've already clinched a minimum winning percentage of .607 for the month, and that's only if they lose the last 2 games. If they win both, they can push that up to .679. So much for "stumbling" in May. When you're winning over 60% of your games, you're doing baseball well.
If the best walk-off hit possible is a solo home run in a zero-zero game--Eloy did it tonight!
(But maybe it's a grand slam when your team is down three? He didn't do that.)
Number eight for Jimenez. His team is 31-17. Yesterday they scored 17 runs against Lansing. Two weeks ago it was 15 runs against the same team. This is a nice team, South Bend. The Cubs must have had a good draft last year.
Tonight the pitchers were Sands, Brooks and Effross.
He'll be fine. He's not some wimpy young pup.
In all seriousness the Cubs have the fewest amount of games played in the NL which means they're gonna be facing quite the grind later on including 24 games in a row at the end of June and beginning of July so I hope he does get a few days off.
Meh. He only got one hit today. Maybe give him a rest?
Good thing the Cubs have five left-handed batters in the lineup. Velasquez is just tearing thru the righties [edit - doesn't seem to faze Bryant!]
ben zobrist gets to ride up front tonight cause he's a good guy at sports.
cubs with a 5 run lead and a lackey shutout through 3ip \m/
HAGSAG: I have not seen Joe Nathan out on the field, but he is supposedly at the UAPC.
ERIC S: Best outing I've ever seen from Manny Rondon, and I've seen most of his outings since the Cubs got him from the Angels.
M. Rondon is competing with six others (Dylan Cease, Bryan Hudson, Jose Paulino, Pedro Silverio, Jesus Castillo, and Erling Moreno) for a starting slot at Eugene, and (as you can probably tell from the EXST box scores) the competition has gotten fierce over the last couple of weeks, With the exception of Moreno, the Eugene SP candidates have upped their game lately, and M. Rondon's outing yesterday was especially impressive/dominating.
E-MAN: Pierce Johnsion was mixing a 92-94 MPH fastball with a plus-change-up AND curve, and he threw strike-after-strike-after-strike with all three of his pitches. I believe that was the best command and pitch-efficiency I've ever seen from Johnson, who often pitches from behind in the count and issues too many walks.
Of course now he has to avoid a recurrence of the lat strain (whch he has had previously in his career) as well as all of the other miscellaneous physical problems he's had over the last three years (hamstring, quad, back, etc).
PHIL: Any movement on P. Johnsons pitches? What was his "out" pitch? I know he was working on a 4th pitch, so wondering what he is looking like these days. Thanks.
AZ Phil, has Nathan showed up in Mesa yet? Thanks.
Eickhoff looks like a good young pitcher. Lets steal him!
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.