If there's been a more consistently annoying Chicago Cubs story in the past few years than whether Lou Piniella was going to move Alfonso Soriano down in the Cubs lineup -- Soriano, a first-pitch fastball hitter, throws a fit about this on an annual basis -- we've yet to see it. It's an annual tradition, discussing this relatively trivial matter; we do it even if we long ago forgot why.
This year, apparently, is going to be no different, though the one slight change is that rather than the leadoff spot issue coming up during one of Soriano's famous mid-year slumps, Piniella decided to get it out of the way early in spring training. Well, then:
But while discussing the middle of his batting order Monday afternoon at Fitch Park, Piniella abruptly changed course and announced he's open to the possibility of change. "You know, I'm not going to [rule] out the possibility of throwing Soriano in on that mix either," he said. "We'll see how it works out. … We can play around with that a little this spring."
Trib Cubs reporter Paul Sullivan says Piniella opened this "family-sized can of worms" now so that he wouldn't have to spend his time talking about it for the next few months. We have a feeling Piniella's strategy is going to be counter-productive.
In any case, Soriano has apparently told Piniella he's willing to switch spots in the lineup. Fair enough. That was the primary factor holding back the swap earlier; every time it was mentioned, Soriano threw one of those mini-hissy fits professional baseball players occasionally throw when their ego is bruised, and the risk of a whiny Soriano underperforming down in the order was one the Cubs could nary afford. If he's willing to make a change, and Piniella can find someone to OBP well in that top lineup spot (Ryan Theriot, if he maintains his production from last season, could be a nice thought) then hey, we're all for it.
At least we're having the conversation again. It almost feels like Cubs season!
Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger hunkered down in Lincoln Park. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, MOUTHPIECE Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com.