Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who was expected to make his spring debut in the team's second exhibition game today, still is bothered enough by a sore shoulder that he won't play until Saturday at the earliest, and possibly as the designated hitter against the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe.
February 2008 Archives
Piniella's lineup for the Cubs' Cactus League opener Thursday against San Francisco in Scottsdale:
SS Ryan Theriot
3B Ronny Cedeno
RF Kosuke Fukudome
1B Derrek Lee
LF Matt Murton
C Geo Soto
2B Alex Cintron
CF Felix Pie
P Ryan Dempster
Based on casual conversations among media at Cubs camp the past few days, some of the shine seems to have worn off new guy Kosuke Fukudome. Whether it's Lou creating a few more expectations by slotting him third in his projected lineup or just the fact we've all seen the guy every day for two weeks now, more skepticism seems to be creeping into the talk. Will he be able to hit those ``moving fastballs'' he says he's not used to seeing? Can he handle the hype and pressure that comes with batting third in his first year in the majors? And what kind of power does he have?
Cubs manager Lou Piniella is considering and reconsidering where to bat Japanese free agent Kosuke Fukudome, even after saying last week he thought the lefty hitter would bat fifth to break up an almost all right-handed lineup. The most intriguing possibility is putting Fukudome in the No. 3 spot -- where he spent most of his time batting in Japan -- and moving Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to the 4-5 spots.
Cubs individual game tickets go on sale Friday. Here is a cut-and-paste of the Cubs' press release with all of the details.
Listening to Lou talk about giving his regulars more rest this year is just another reminder of what must be the biggest home-field disadvantage in big-league sports. Twenty years after turning on the lights at Wrigley Field, how about using them a little more than once in awhile?
During his first news conference of spring training Wednesday, general manager Jim Hendry seemed to be taking a shot at former Cubs manager Dusty Baker while heaping praise on Lou Piniella.
"A big key to us getting back on track last year was we had a manager who played the people who came up right away, which is very important,’’ Hendry said. ‘‘Lou plugged them right in the first two or three days and got the most out of them. So you don't have to have all these high-profile, superstar prospects. The guys who filled in the cracks last year really helped us win the division as much as the star players."
With news today that the agonizingly drawn-out trade of Baltimore pitcher Erik Bedard to Seattle is finally done, the long-discussed trade of O's second baseman Brian Roberts to the Cubs should come next. But how long will that deal take -- if it happens at all?