The scorecard posted in the Cubs' clubhouse prior to the game featured Tyler Colvin batting eighth and playing right field, but it was in fact Xavier Nady who started in right, batting seventh. It marked the first time Nady has started on back-to-back days this season, significant because he is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right throwing arm. Nady doubled in his first at-bat.
"I didn't know if he would be available to play two days in a row, but he says he's ready to go, so we'll put him out in right field," Piniella said.
Piniella said before Friday's game that Nady's elbow wasn't quite 100 percent and he would be ready to play every day by June 1. Despite Nady's second straight start, his status remains the same.
"I just had a talk with our trainer and nothing has really changed. We're still going about it the same way," Piniella said. "We need to get him on the field more often. It's according to his availability. And we've got to swing the bats a little bit."
Nady is a career .300 hitter against left-handed pitchers and the Pirates started southpaw Paul Maholm in the second game of the series.
With the lineup change, Starlin Castro moved to eighth in the order. Piniella added that Colvin was fine and he would not hesitate to use him against lefties in the future.
In another lineup move, Piniella slotted Geovany Soto in the five-hole for the second time this season. Soto went 1-for-3 with a walk behind the cleanup hitter against the Marlins on Wednesday.
"What does it do for us? It'll put a catcher hitting fifth in our lineup," Piniella said jokingly. "He's been swinging the bat. We've been hitting Soto seventh, so what we did was flip-flop Nady and Soto."
The 27-year-old backstop has registered 53 at-bats from the eight-hole and 27 at-bats in the seven spot this season. During his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign, Soto had roughly the same number of at-bats at fifth (133), sixth (158) and seventh (159), but he hit just .226 when batting fifth, compared to .278 when batting sixth and .302 when batting seventh.
Piniella said he doesn't put much into the lineup change.
"I think too much is made of those things," Piniella said, echoing a one of his familiar refrains. "They're very subtle, little things."
Regardless, the move might be a reflection of Soto's production. Though he hasn't had enough at-bats to qualify, Soto would rank second in the National League in on-base percentage with a .459 mark.