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  #1  
Old Mar 30th 2008, 9:11 am
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Every-day lineup not quite set yet

Guys I found this article, here we go again with the lineup changes...............
LAS VEGAS -- In their final prep work for the season, Cubs hitters rapped 13 hits, drew a walk, got a home run from new outfielder Reed Johnson and beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2.

But manager Lou Piniella still was searching for more from his lineup as the last inning of free tinkering time expired.

So look for more tinkering once the season starts, despite Piniella's confidence a few weeks ago that he would have a set, every-day lineup for the start of the season. In particular, look for tinkering against left-handed starters -- which the Cubs won't see until at least the weekend series against Houston.

''We need to pick it up offensively a little bit,'' he said. ''I've been saying that [for a while]. We've had a few spurts where we have [shown signs], but on a consistency basis we're going to have to improve on that.''

Against Seattle lefty Jarrod Washburn on Saturday, Piniella had Johnson leading off -- something he plans to do regularly against lefties -- and flip-flopped No. 2 hitter Alfonso Soriano with No. 5 hitter Kosuke Fukudome, mostly to provide better, right-handed protection for cleanup man Aramis Ramirez.

It was the first time this spring Soriano had batted fifth after batting exclusively in the top two spots with the exception of Wednesday.

Against right-handers, including Milwaukee's Ben Sheets in Monday's opener, Piniella plans to play the lineup he set more than a week ago: Ryan Theriot, Soriano, Derrek Lee, Ramirez, Fukudome, Mark DeRosa, Geovany Soto and Felix Pie.

But Piniella said he likes Fukudome as a No. 2 hitter -- with his major-league-leading 15 walks giving him a .415 on-base percentage this spring -- and could use him there more often against lefties.

''Let's just take a look at it, that's all,'' Piniella said of Saturday's switch. ''We'll see how it goes. And we can make adjustments if need be.''

Fukudome's two infield singles Saturday -- both on plays to infielders that could have been made -- gave him a 2-for-3 day that bumped his final spring batting average 20 points to .270. He was hitting in the .220s less than two weeks ago.

''He's swinging the bat better,'' Piniella said. ''He's had a very respectable spring. He's gotten a chance to see a lot of pitching. And I think once we get out of spring training and we get into a little cooler weather and these kids get stronger -- not only Fukudome -- I think we'll all swing the bats a little better.''

Your final answer?
Piniella said he's taking the final roster decision -- whether Sean Marshall or Carmen Pignatiello wins the lone lefty spot in the bullpen -- into today's workout day.

If the final week of games is the decisive factor, as Piniella suggested it would be, then Pignatiello should get the nod. Marshall struggled out of the pen in the final days, including allowing singles to the only two Seattle batters he faced in the sixth inning of a one-run game Saturday.

Pignatiello, whose only spring run allowed was the result of a routine fly ball to right being lost in the sun for a triple, entered the game with two outs in the eighth and struck out the only batter he faced -- giving him nine strikeouts and a walk-less spring in 11 appearances (10 1/3 innings).

Wood's big finish
Closer Kerry Wood had an adventurous save situation Saturday, putting the leadoff guy on base with his only walk of the spring, then allowing a single before starting a double play with a bare-hand grab of a one-hopper to the mound.

He finished it by striking out the next batter.

''What a nice athletic play, and he made it look easy -- an easy double play,'' Piniella said. ''But I think Larry [Rothschild] is going to talk to him about using the glove. ... Woody's had an exceptional spring. Let's hope it's a springboard into a great season for him.''
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Old Mar 30th 2008, 9:34 am
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These are good problems to have. Lou has many options.
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