Without too many moving parts from last year to this, the batting order for the Chicago Cubs is not as prone to questioning as it has been in years past. In fact, the main question – why in the sweet hell is Alfonso Soriano still leading off – mercifully faded away, for good, last year.
But the addition of new center fielder Marlon Byrd and departure of Milton Bradley did leave one lineup question: what changes with Byrd instead of Bradley? The answer: nothing. Manager Lou Piniella says Byrd will replace Bradley in the five hole.
“That, to me, is the most important thing to our team this year offensively — who hits fifth,” Piniella said at the annual Cubs Convention.
Piniella said he plans to take a look at both Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot as the team’s potential leadoff hitter. From there, he seems confident in his spring training order.
“We have Derrek Lee who’s a wonderful, wonderful three hitter,” Piniella said. “[Aramis]Ramirez is very productive at the four spot. And we’ve settled in with Soriano at the six hole, and I think he’s comfortable with it. We really just have the fifth hole to look at, and I’ve talked to the new hitting coach [Rudy Jaramillo] at length about Marlon, and he thinks he can fit in there.” ESPN Chicago.
That means the early favorite on the lineup is as follows:
1.) Ryan Theriot, SS / Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2.) Ryan Theriot, SS / Kosuke Fukudome, RF
3.) Derrek Lee, 1B
4.) Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5.) Marlon Byrd, CF
6.) Alfonso Soriano, LF
7.) Mike Fontenot, 2B / Jeff Baker, 2B
8.) Geovany Soto, C
Piniella has suggested that Fontenot will hit 7th, and Soto 8th, but you’ve got to believe if Soto finds his stroke again, it will be hard to keep him at the bottom of the order. Oh, and not to mention: it might be hard for him to find his stroke again while hitting at the bottom of the order.
But today is a day for clarity, not complaints. There’s plenty of time to gripe about the order.