Cubs looking at Colvin to fill in at first

Cubs looking at Colvin to fill in at first

CHICAGO -- Tyler Colvin hasn't played first base since his sophomore year in college, and that was only part time. On Thursday, he was taking grounders there during batting practice, and may take over for the Cubs in the future now that Derrek Lee is gone.

Lee was traded to the Braves on Wednesday for three Minor League pitchers, leaving a huge hole in the Cubs' lineup and infield. Xavier Nady and Jeff Baker can handle the position for now but Colvin, a left-handed hitter, may get some time there in the final six weeks.

"He'll get some ground balls over there, and we'll do that for a couple days and see how he feels and how he does," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "If we can look at him over there, it gives the new people a head start on what the options are."

The "new people" would be the new manager and coaching staff for 2011. Piniella is retiring after this season.

Cubs bench coach Alan Trammell, who works with the infielders, only made a few suggestions during Colvin's workout Thursday, saying the athletic rookie looked comfortable.

How did Colvin feel?

"There's a big difference between taking ground balls off a fungo and taking line drives from Ryan Howard," he said. "That's what I have to get used to."

He used his first baseman's glove from college, which his grandfather had sent him earlier this year, as well as a new Wilson A2000 model he was trying to break in. Before batting practice, Colvin was asked if he had been secretly taking grounders at first just in case.

"At night," he said with a straight face. "We've been practicing at midnight with no lights, which makes it tougher."

At that point, none of the Cubs' coaching staff had said anything to him about a possible switch from the outfield. That changed in minutes.

"I was a little bit surprised, but I had enough people hinting toward it the last week or so," Colvin said. "I was a little surprised at the timing."

When Colvin did play the infield in college, he wasn't the everyday first baseman either. His best spot really is left field. That's Alfonso Soriano's space. Maybe Soriano could switch to first?

"Whoa," Soriano said Thursday. "Never. I didn't want to play second base, and I played second base for five years."

Nady is coming back from Tommy John surgery on his elbow and said he feels it on certain throws.

"I'll just keep plugging away and see how it goes," Nady said.

Lee made it look easy at first. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Lee will be back at Wrigley Field at first on Friday, when the Cubs and Braves open a three-game series. It will take more than a couple batting practice sessions before Colvin is ready to start a big league game at first. He's a key part of the Cubs' youth movement.

"I'll see how comfortable I am over there," he said. "I'll take grounders in batting practice the next few days and we'll go from there."