Cubs to Experiment with Soriano Batting 11th

July 10, 2009

(Chicago, IL) – As the Chicago Cubs head into a tremendously important four-game series against the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, they have many things to worry about.

When will Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto return from injuries? Should they pitch to Albert Pujols?

But no question is more difficult – and more frustrating – than what to do about Alfonso Soriano.The outfielder and former lead off hitter has seen his rate stats slip mightily, and has an OPS that barely eclipses .500 over the last month. It has already cost him his spot at the top of the lineup, and now the Cubs just have to decide where to put him.

Manager Lou Piniella says he’s got some ideas.

“Well, I think we’re going to try him further down the order for a while, and see what happens,” Piniella said Friday morning. “We’ve already tried him down in the six spot, but that hasn’t seemed to work. So we’re going to keep sliding.”

“We’ll see how he responds to hitting out of the eleven hole.”

When reporters pointed out to Piniella that because the batting order has only nine spots, batting Soriano 11th would effectively exclude him from the lineup altogether, Piniella shrugged.

“At this point, we’re willing to take our chances with this lineup. If it means Soriano gets fewer at bats, we’ll just see what happens. We just need to get him jump-started out of this funk, and this will put him in much lower pressure situations. Like chewing sunflower seeds and handing out towels. Soon, he’ll be ready for pine tar maintenance.”

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