Hmm. Time was, we assumed there would be some kind of platoonish set up in the outfield such that, when the Cubs were facing a lefty, they would find a way to get Xavier Nady into the lineup, together with Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano. While it might not lead to a straight-up platoon with Kosuke Fukudome, something close to that made sense, given Fukudome’s clear struggles against lefty pitching.
But now, Lou Piniella says that he’s got other plans because he wants to spread around the outfield starts as much as possible.
Piniella laid out his plan for accomplishing that Sunday for the first time — saying he’ll use Xavier Nady in left to spell Alfonso Soriano and Colvin in center and right when he gives those starters time off.
That shortens some of Nady’s throws as he continues to build strength in his surgically repaired elbow.
It also means all the early-season playing time in right figures to go to a pair of lefty hitters in Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome — which won’t matter on this six-game trip. The Cubs won’t face a lefty starter.
After that, ”If a left-handed hitter can hit left-handed pitching, my preference would be play the left-handed hitter,” said Piniella, whose lefty starters (Mike Fontenot and Fukudome) both have unflattering splits against lefty pitchers.
And that comes back to Colvin’s spring.
”Colvin seemed to hang in there pretty well against most of the guys we faced,” Piniella said of the kid who led the majors this spring with a .468 overall average. ”Now it’s going to be different, obviously, when we get into the season, and you’ve got the advance report on how to pitch you, how to defense you and all those things. But we’ve got five good outfielders, and we’re going to utilize them all.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
Obviously this plan is subject to revision, among other reasons, because Xavier Nady will eventually be able to comfortably make longer throws. So with that in mind, I’ll reserve frustration for now, and simply say that it sounds like Piniella is exhibiting a whole lot of confidence in Tyler Colvin. We’ll see soon if it’s justified, and whether Piniella will be able to get Colvin as many at bats as he’d like – if the regulars are hitting well, how often do you sit them?