Lou on Wednesday

As is customary, Lou Piniella met with the media for several minutes prior to Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Wrigley Field. The Cubs' manager spent a good portion of the interview session with reporters talking about the weather and how the conditions play into the series.

First things first, Piniella explained his decision to opt for outfielder Felix Pie over rookie Micah Hoffpauir on the Cubs' initial postseason roster.

Hoffpauir batted .306 in 14 games with the team in September after putting up a career year at Class AAA Iowa. Pie batted only .241 with the Cubs, but Piniella said he favored Pie's versatility over Hoffpauir's power bat in this series.

"He can pinch-run, we can double-switch with him and he can steal a base, so we went with that agenda as opposed to the bat with power," said Piniella.

The Cubs' skipper then touched on the weather. Asked if it would affect the series at Wrigley, Piniella was inclined to say yes.

He noted that the wind was blowing in "pretty well" before the game.

"Chances of scoring runs here are obviously much greater when there's no wind, or when the wind is blowing slightly out," Piniella said. "Both teams are going to have to play good defense and you're going to have to stay away from the walks. Walks can hurt you in this type of environment a heck of a lot."

Piniella's Game 1 lineup contained few if any surprises. He opted to start Kosuke Fukudome in right field with banged-up Mark DeRosa (calf) at second base Wednesday. Jim Edmonds, a left-handed hitter, got the start over righty Reed Johnson in center against Dodgers right-hander Derek Lowe.

Piniella was asked if the weather affected how he put together his defense for Wednesday's game.

"We would have probably done the same thing," Piniella said. "This is the lineup that we would have played. The only decision that I … vacillated a little bit on (was Mike) Fontenot has been swinging the bat really well toward the end of the season.

"But look, this is basically the alignment that got us here for the good portion of the summer and we're going to go with it. We'll make some adjustments if we have to a game or two down the road. Hopefully we won't have to."

Piniella reiterated that the wind changes the complexity of the game.

"It's hard to hit the ball out of here with the flag blowing in the way it is," he said. "The wind knocks that ball down and you've got to have good outfield play. It's very important. You can make an error in the infield (and) it's one base. If you miss one in the outfield it's two or three bases.

"I like the idea of good defense and good pitching in this type of environment."

He spoke highly of Manny Ramirez, the Dodgers' most dangerous hitter, for the second straight day. Asked how to go about slowing down Ramirez, Piniella said: "He's a really good hitter. He studies hitting, he's very talented. Our scouts that watched the Dodgers for a month asked us, ‘How do you want to pitch him?' They said that jokingly but he's been hitting."

Ramirez batted .396 with 17 home runs in 53 games with the Dodgers and .370 with 28 RBI in September.

"We're going to have to probably stay away from this young man late in the game and make somebody else (beat us)," said Piniella. "I think that's probably our best approach in the manner."

Piniella was asked if he had a different feeling about the Cubs going into the postseason this year versus a year ago when the team was quickly swept by Arizona. He said the feeling was the same; that he felt good about his club.

"We've got to play on the field. Last year we didn't do it," Piniella said. "We had a very, very hard time scoring runs and we got beat. Hopefully we won't be that way this year. We've got to score some runs and give our pitchers some runs to work with.

"Look, we're going to do the best we can. I feel confident that we will, but again it's done on the field. It's not done at the microphone."

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