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.

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