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

Lou: Cubs ``haven't not won because of'' Mesa facilities

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As the Cubs made their annual move from Fitch Park, a mile up the road to HoHoKam Stadium on the eve of their exhibition opener, the subject of old-vs.-new spring facilities came up in Lou's afternoon media session.

With a new facility, the move 2 ½ weeks into camp wouldn't be necessary, obviously, he said.

But more than that, the Cubs have relatively little work space compared to even Fitch Park, especially in early March when nobody has yet been cut from big-league camp - one full field, one smaller field and a few bullpen mounds and hitting-cage stations.

``I remember the 10 years I spent here with Seattle, we had wonderful fields,'' Piniella said listing the six full fields that Peoria, Ariz., complex has available to the Mariners.

``It's more limited [in Mesa]. But it's a workable thing. Put it this way: we haven't not won because of the facilities here.''

Nearly a month after striking an exclusivity deal with Mesa to work toward a new state-of-the-art spring complex, Arizona's share of the agreed funding for the facility is anything but assured - with the recently proposed ``Cubs tax'' on Cactus League games involving all teams has been met with strongly worded opposition from several teams that train in the Phoenix area.

Also today:

--Piniella said he likes the work new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo has done with several Cubs hitters, including Kosuke Fukudome, Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot.

--The manager also said he was open to using a late-inning defensive replacement for Soriano in left during the season, even if Soriano is completely healthy this year. Some of that depends on how defensively capable and versatile his yet-to-be-determined bench outfielders are.

--Soriano, by the way, will sit out the Cubs' first two spring games as he continues to gain strength and confidence in the surgically repaired left knee, making his Cactus League debut Saturday against the White Sox.

--Tyler Colvin starts in Soriano's place Thursday in their exhibition opener. The rest of the lineup is filled with projected regulars.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on March 3, 2010 2:36 PM.

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