Inside Pitch: Cubs

The Sports Xchange provides detailed notes on the Chicago Cubs.

The trade of center fielder Marlon Byrd has opened up some new lineup possibilities for manager Dale Sveum as he tries to find any combination that will produce runs.

Byrd was a middle-of-the-order hitter, but his horrendous start (3-for-43) handcuffed Sveum and the Cubs.

Now, Sveum can go with Tony Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather in center field. None is a power hitter, but each brings a little something different.

Campana is the most interesting of the three because of his blazing speed. If Campana can get on base, and that is a concern, he can create havoc. Sveum said that although it might be tempting to bat Campana leadoff, he's more inclined to leave David DeJesus there and let Campana hit second. That drops second baseman Darwin Barney down to seventh or eighth.

"DeJesus' on-base percentage has been good," said Sveum, noting that DeJesus had three hits and a walk in the final two games of the St. Louis series this week. "He can drive the ball and hit doubles to where Campana can bunt him over as well as get a hit when he's bunting him over. When he's putting a sacrifice bunt down for a basehit, the odds are pretty good in our favor he's getting them over and possibly getting on base with a hit."

That leads to another interesting spot for Sveum, who works for a sabermetrically inclined front office headed by Theo Epstein. The new-school thinking says bunting with position players, especially early in games, is akin to giving away outs.

Sveum says he sees an exception to that so-called rule with Campana in the lineup.

"With those kind of guys, yeah," he said of bunting with Campana. "I think you have to. You're putting pressure on the defense to throw a ball away. It's going to be bang-bang whether it's at somebody or not. If he pulls off a good bunt, he's going to be safe."

The bigger concern with the Cubs as they head to Philadelphia for a four-game series and Cincinnati for a three-game set is slugging percentage, or lack of it. The Cubs have slugged just .333 as a team, which ranks 28th among the 30 major league teams. Of Chicago's seven homers, first baseman Bryan LaHair has four. The other three have come from Barney, Geovany Soto and Ian Stewart.


--LF Alfonso Soriano is 15-for-64 (.234) this season, and 14 of the hits are singles, with the other being a double. The Cubs are counting on Soriano hitting at least 25 homers this year. "For the last two days, I'm feeling my swing (is) back," said Soriano, who tends to hit in streaks. "When I swing at good pitches, I hit the ball hard. That's what I have to do: be more selective at home plate."

--2B Darwin Barney has a hitting line of .294/.342/.412. The slugging percentage is well above his career norm of .310 entering this year, but he had the team's first homer of this season. He also has three doubles and a triple. Barney has hit safely in 13 of his last 17 games, going 20-for-64 (.313).

--1B Bryan LaHair has reached base safely in a team-high 15 games. Manager Dale Sveum likes to have a lot of left-handed bats in the lineup. Although LaHair will sit against a tough left-handed pitcher, Sveum may have no choice but to play him every day. LaHair homered this week against Cardinals LHP Marc Rzepczynski. "Oh, yeah, I'm not afraid of left-handers," LaHair said. "I feel like any time I come to the plate, I can do something, whether it's lefties, righties. But I'm on board. I have a role right now."

--RHP Michael Bowden has made one appearance since he was acquired last Saturday in a trade with the Red Sox. Bowden worked the ninth inning against the Cardinals on Tuesday, creating, but getting out of, a bases-loaded jam. "He was OK," manager Dale Sveum said. "Probably nerves a little bit going out in front of his hometown for the first time and pitching with his new team. He got out of it. Hopefully, that just calms him down a little bit, pitching in a big game in a big situation and got out of a jam." Bowden is a native of the Chicago suburbs and still lives there.

--RHP Carlos Marmol got a mop-up inning of work in during Wednesday's 5-1 loss to the Cardinals. Marmol blew a save chance the previous night as he came in for a potential four-out save. Manager Dale Sveum said he would not hesitate to come back with Marmol in a save situation. However, he did say that because of Marmol's tendency to throw a lot of pitches, he'd likely come in to get no more than four outs in any save opportunity.

BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- Despite being the backup catcher, Steve Clevenger has a team-high five doubles in just 22 at-bats.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Every team's good. You take every game as if you1're playing the world champions every day. Baseball is baseball. If you put your guard down, you're going to find yourself in a lot of trouble." -- Manager Dale Sveum, on the Cubs' tough upcoming schedule.


--RHP Ryan Dempster (strained right quadriceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 18. He might be able to return as soon as he is eligible.

--RHP Kerry Wood (right shoulder fatigue) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 14. He had a cortisone shot April 18, and he could go on a minor league rehab assignment before being activated. There is no timetable for his return.

--RHP Marcos Mateo (ulnar neuritis in right arm) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4.

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