Now that Tyler Colvin has made the Chicago Cubs, manager Lou Piniella will have some difficult day-to-day decisions to make in the outfield. There are three starters, but then a starting-caliber fourth outfielder (Xavier Nady), and now a youngster whom Lou has said he wants to get a couple starts a week. So, um, how is he going to do that?
“I’ve got to find playing time for Colvin and I’ve got to get Nady in there occasionally, too, because he needs to get some at-bats and he needs to play some,” Piniella said Wednesday. “I’ll have to juggle a little bit in the outfield. It’s doable. I’m not being asked to do anything impossible. I said if we carried Colvin, and he deserves to be here, no question, that we’d have to find playing time and we will.”
Colvin entered Wednesday’s game batting .457, which was third in the Cactus League and fourth in the Major Leagues. He’s also the fastest player on the team and may hit second in the lineup when he is playing.
Veterans usually don’t like days off. Byrd, who was part of a four-man outfield rotation last year in Texas, said he’s never asked for a breather.
“I don’t go in and ask for days off,” Byrd said. “My goal at one point is to play 162 [games].”
Both Soriano and Fukudome have been slow to hit this spring. Soriano was batting .250 going into Wednesday’s game with one home run while Fukudome was hitting .279.
“We’d like to see [Soriano] start swinging the bat,” Piniella said.
Is the Cubs manager concerned?
“Spring Training has taught me in the years I’ve been doing this not to concern myself with too much of what you see here,” Piniella said. “You concern yourself with more what you see when the bell rings. I’m going to go with my veteran players. I feel confident they’ll get the job done. If not, we’ll make some adjustments.” cubs.com.
I read that as Lou saying he won’t be dolling out a ton of starts to the back-ups right off the bat unless the regulars struggle. Here’s the thing: in a given, 6-game week, there are a total of 18 starts in the outfield to go around. If Colvin gets a few of them, and Nady gets a few of them, that’s just 12 to go to the regulars, which means they’d be playing only four out of every six games. Anyone believe that’s actually going to happen? I just can’t see it.
It’s going to be very difficult to keep everyone fresh and happy in the outfield this year. It’s a good problem to have, to be sure, but it’s a problem nevertheless.