Piniella Still Pressed about Lineup

Manager Lou Piniella laughed at the predicament media members put him in when it comes to talking about the lineup. Piniella went with his Opening Day lineup in Game 2 of the season, Wednesday against Milwaukee.

"We just started," an exasperated Piniella said. "You know what's amazing? If I don't change the lineup, I get asked, 'Why in the hell aren't you changing it?' And if I do change it, 'You're tinkering.' Either way, I'm going to be answering. We'll just stay with this lineup as long as we can. Hopefully, it works out and we won't have to change it."

But guess what? Moments after the Cubs fell 8-2 to the Brewers, Piniella changed his mind. Beginning with Thursday's series finale, left fielder Alfonso Soriano will move back to the leadoff spot from No. 2, flip-flopping with shortstop Ryan Theriot.

Late in spring training, Piniella went the opposite way, ostensibly to protect Soriano's fragile legs.

Piniella tinkered endlessly in spring training with the lineup, so none of these machinations should have come as any surprise because he used 125 different starting eights last year.

Although Piniella recognizes the importance of on-base percentage, neither Soriano nor Theriot is a high OBP guy, but Soriano has felt comfortable and has had most of his success batting first.

Perhaps the best OBP hitter in the lineup will be right fielder Kosuke Fukudome, who proved productive on Opening Day with a double, a walk, a single and a game-tying three-run homer in the ninth. It looks as if Piniella will go this way awhile, but don't be surprised to see Fukudome bat second if the top of the order has trouble getting on.

BREWERS 8, CUBS 2: Cubs starting pitcher Ted Lilly didn't have his fastball Wednesday, and he lasted only 4 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and four runs. On top of that, the Cubs played poorly in the field, committing two errors and two wild pitches. Their pitchers hit Prince Fielder twice, and center fielder Felix Pie airmailed the cutoff man on a throw to the plate, allowing a baserunner to advance as the run scored.

NEWS AND NOTES

  • RHP Carlos Zambrano will be going bananas, but not in the figurative sense as he's often been accused. The Cubs say they identified Zambrano's cramping problems as a potassium shortage. So not only will Zambrano be drinking more water to stay hydrated, but the Cubs will encourage him to eat potassium-rich foods, such as bananas. They'll also encourage him to cut out caffeine, which he gets from coffee and some energy drinks. Zambrano came out of his Opening Day start after 6 2/3 innings because of hand and forearm cramps. The Cubs immediately took blood and urine samples to gauge Zambrano's vitals. He also spent time Tuesday at a Chicago hospital getting his kidneys checked out. The team says he's fine but it'll try to come up with a plan for him to maintain adequate body fluids during games.

  • RHP Ryan Dempster makes his first start since May 4, 2005, when he faces the Brewers in Thursday's series finale at Wrigley Field. Dempster's last start came in Milwaukee. He is aiming to make the transition from the Cubs' closer to their No. 3 starter. This spring, Dempster incorporated a "waggle" with his glove as he gets set to deliver. He said it helps him get his timing down.

  • CF Felix Pie was 1-for-4 in Wednesday's 8-2 loss to the Brewers. Manager Lou Piniella said he'll let Pie play and that he'll be patient with him. The Brewers are throwing three right-handers at the Cubs, as are the Astros this weekend. Pie bats left-handed. Pie has been known for solid defense, but Piniella was not happy with Pie missing the cutoff man on one play Wednesday, allowing a runner to advance as a run scored.

  • LHP Ted Lilly had neither command nor velocity with his fastball Wednesday. He said he had no explanation for it. During spring training, he relied on just his fastball and change, rarely using his big curve. Manager Lou Piniella wants Lilly to start using all of his pitches.

  • C Geovany Soto hit his first homer of the season Wednesday. He is 1-for-6 after two games following a sluggish spring training at the plate. The Cubs would like to see Soto pick it up at the plate. He also allowed three stolen bases Wednesday.


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