Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

'The Riot' searches for a new identity

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After starting each of the Cubs' first 25 games, shortstop Ryan Theriot got a well-deserved day off today -- at least from the starting lineup. He pinch hit in the eighth inning and flew out to right.

The break should have provided the hot-hitting Theriot some time to think about a new nickname, given his recent status as the Cubs' resident slugger. After all, he has three home runs and eight RBI in the last four games he has started.

Any ideas?

''Not yet,'' Theriot said. ''I wanted one. They were going to call me 'Delicious,' but Nick Swisher's already got that one.''

Delicious? For a home run hitter?

''Nick goes deep,'' Theriot said. ''So I don't know.''

Keep in mind, Theriot hit just one home run all of last season, and his career high is three (in 2007 and 2006). Before the recent hot spell, Theriot had gone 620 at-bats without a home run. That was the third-longest homerless drought among active big leaguers, behind second baseman Miguel Cairo (788) and pitcher Tom Glavine (787). Theriot admits he has enjoyed flexing his muscle the last few days, especially the grand slam he hit Friday against the Marlins.

''More important, we've been winning games,'' he said. ''Yeah, [the grand slam's] cool, but a bases-clearing double probably would have given me the same kind of feeling. We kind of hit a lull in the run-scoring department. Yeah, you enjoy hitting home runs, but it's more important that after every game, you're playing music in the clubhouse than everybody sitting in front of their locker thinking about what they could have done differently to help the team win.''

Manager Lou Piniella has been preaching to Theriot the need to be more aware of instances when he should be driving the ball. Theriot says it's not the first time his manager has sent such a message.

''I can vividly remember Dusty [Baker] telling me to drive the ball,'' he said. ''And I went up and hit a triple the next at-bat. It's hard because going the other way is something that comes naturally to me -- hitting the ball to the opposite field. There are plenty of times when I'm trying to do other things and the ball just goes that way. Having that mind-set of driving the ball a little more has paid off, especially at a time when we needed to score some runs.''

Now we just need to work on that nickname appropriate for a power threat.

Any ideas?

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This page contains a single entry by Chris De Luca published on May 5, 2009 2:09 PM.

A day of rest for Cubs vs. Giants' Lincecum was the previous entry in this blog.

NL Central Watch: Dusty draws it up is the next entry in this blog.

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