Johnson Could See Added Playing Time

Cubs manager Lou Piniella tweaked his lineup for the second game of the season-opening series at Houston. Reed Johnson replaced Kosuke Fukudome in center field, as expected, as the Astros threw left-hander Wandy Rodriguez at the Cubs.

That's been the plan all along -- Fukudome playing against right-handed pitchers and Johnson playing against lefties. It won't be a straight platoon, though, especially if Fukudome doesn't hit. He was 0-for-4 Monday, with a called third strike and a double-play grounder. On Tuesday, Johnson was 1-for-3 with a walk.

Piniella has said he likes the energy Johnson brings to the team. That may have been a way of lighting a fire under Fukudome, but it also was praise for Johnson, who came to spring training in good shape and enjoyed a good Cactus League season. So if Johnson hits and Fukudome doesn't, Johnson may end up getting the bulk of the playing time.

There were a couple of other tweaks. Shortstop Ryan Theriot moved up from eighth to second in the order. He batted second most of last season. Second baseman Mike Fontenot, who had three hits Monday, moved down from sixth to eighth.

Fontenot is a left-handed hitter, so it was somewhat surprising he played over switch hitter Aaron Miles. But Piniella said he's going to get playing time for all his players. On top of that, he said he likes to throw a couple of left-handed batters against a lefty pitcher because it makes the pitcher work to both sides of the plate, and it can take away the changeup as a weapon and force the pitcher to throw more breaking balls.

ASTROS 3, CUBS 2 (10 innings): The Cubs managed just six hits against six Astros pitchers. Alfonso Soriano hit his second homer in two nights to tie the game at 2-2 in the eighth. Soriano also struck out three times, as Cubs batters whiffed nine times. RHP Ryan Dempster gave the Cubs their second quality start in two games. LHP Neal Cotts was tagged with the loss, as RHP Kevin Gregg gave up a broken-bat single to Jeff Keppinger in the 10th to score the winner.

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