Soriano willing to lead off for Cubs

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Soriano willing to lead off for Cubs

Updated: 5:30 p.m.

MESA, Ariz. Before an intra-squad scrimmage scheduled to last five innings, Dale Sveum was asked about the pitch counts the Cubs would be under, what he wanted to see out of Travis Wood and if Randy Wells facing a major-league lineup was by design.

See what I mean you guys just come up with stuff, Sveum said Friday. Thats just the way it all came out.Theres no meaning to it.

Or, as Allen Iverson once said: Were talking about practice!

The Cubs manager had to laugh several times during a media session in the HoHoKam Stadium dugout that lasted 13 minutes. Lou Piniella grew tired of the daily questions about his lineup, but Sveum is going to have to get used to it.

The first-year manager knew exactly which direction reporters were heading once they saw the lineups posted and Alfonso Soriano batting leadoff for the White team. One mentioned how Sveum might not have known about the public outcry when Piniella put Soriano at the top.

Whether hes leading off a game or leading off the inning, his numbers are pretty incredible over his career, Sveum said. If you want to get into details of why you might come up with something like that, it could be (that) simple. We dont have the bona fide guys at any position in the order.

In 771 career games hitting leadoff, Soriano has produced a .288 average with 197 home runs and 457 RBI. Leading off the inning, hes hitting .289 in almost 2,000 at-bats. He clearly doesnt run the same way he used to, but hes been surprised by how good his legs feel so far.

Im open to any decision that (Sveum) makes, Soriano said. The most important thing for me is Im feeling good and well see what happens.

Im 36 years old, but I dont feel like Im 36. As soon as I put on the uniform, I just feel like Im 25.

The fans that want a prototypical leadoff hitter to steal 60 bases forget that there really arent many left in the game. And the Cubs dont have many proven players you can automatically plug into the lineup.

(Starlin) Castros probably the most sound, best hitter we have to hit third, Sveum said. Do we have that base stealer to lead off and get on base? (David) DeJesus probably fills that. But we dont have a lot of cut-and-dry spots to where you say, OK, this guy is this. This guy is that. Its not that easy with this lineup.

Sveum expects to have his Opening Day lineup settled by the middle of March. He didnt close the door on Soriano hitting leadoff in a real game at some point. He also said you shouldnt read too much into this.

You can possibly see just about anything, Sveum said. During the season, yeah, a lot of things can come up to where it can happen. But you really want Soriano just to be in an RBI spot.

This is life inside the Wrigley Field fishbowl. This is how it spins with the 247 news cycle. There are almost 400 more media sessions left in this season.

I knew the first question was going to be Soriano in the leadoff spot today, Sveum said. You know everythings going to be critiqued and analyzed for a number of reasons. I dont know if it even matters anymore about big-market clubs.

Managers have press conferences every day now. There are always enough people around to pick something and find something: What were you doing here? What were you doing there? Its always going to happen. Thats just part of the game.

From World Series to World Baseball Classic: Javier Baez to play for Puerto Rico

From World Series to World Baseball Classic: Javier Baez to play for Puerto Rico

Javier Baez will try to make it two championships in the span of just a few months.

After winning a World Series with the Cubs last month, Javier Baez will play for Puerto Rico in next year's World Baseball Classic.

Major League Baseball announced an initial list of 30 players who will compete in the event. Baez was the lone Cub on that list, though the remaining roster spots for all 16 squads will be announced as the tournament gets closer.

Baez was one of five players on baseball's list confirmed to suit up for Puerto Rico, joined by Carlos Beltran and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros, Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians and Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Baez batted .273 with a .314 on-base percentage, 14 home runs, 59 RBIs, 19 doubles and 12 stolen bases in 142 regular-season games, all the while playing highlight-reel defense.

He was named the co-MVP of the NLCS, picking up seven hits — four of them doubles — driving in five runs and stealing two bases.

Cubs cashing in big time with ticket prices after World Series win

Cubs cashing in big time with ticket prices after World Series win

The Cubs didn't wait long to cash in on their first championship in over a century.

As the MLB winter meetings heat up in Maryland, the Cubs are raising ticket prices across the board.

Danny Ecker of Crain's Chicago Business reports the Cubs sent renewal invoices to season ticket holders Monday with an average price increase of 19.5 percent.

Meanwhile, club box infield tickets are increasing by 31 percent, bleacher seats up over 22 percent and other spots raising from 11 to 17 percent. The lowest increase is 6 percent for upper deck tickets.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

The average price of a season ticket for the Cubs is $58 per game now at Wrigley Field, which is 31 percent more than the same figure from three years ago, Ecker reports

Just from season tickets alone, Ecker states the Cubs could be looking at an extra $20 million in revenue in 2017 compared to 2016.

Add in the more than 200 seats in the "Bullpen Box" down each foul line where the bullpens used to be on the field (each seat starts at $16,000 for the full season), and the Cubs are going to see a major increase in ticket sales coming off a year in which they led MLB with 103 wins, won the National League pennant and then finished it off by hosting three World Series games at Wrigley Field in late October before winning it all on the road.

And hey, why not?

Wrigleyville is guaranteed to be poppin' every night next summer regardless of ticket prices.