The Cubs trimmed four players from the spring roster on Monday, including outfielder Felix Pie and infielder Tomas Perez, which leaves the Cubs with 17 pitchers, seven infielders, seven outfielders and two catchers in camp. It also seemed to establish which position players will break camp.
"It means basically that we're going to keep Cedeno as our backup infielder," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Monday.
Cedeno responded well following a chat he had with Piniella earlier this spring in Surprise, Ariz. Just look at his walk totals. Last year, Cedeno drew 17 walks in 151 games. This spring, he's walked 10 times in 21 games.
"I told him we're going to give him an opportunity, but I wanted to see some things done," Piniella said. "He's responded. Now we have to stay on top of him to continue."
Are those conversations one way?
"Put it this way, they're very constructive, very positive in nature, but mostly one way," Piniella said. "I wasn't on the listening end of this one.
"We're just trying to help these kids to do what they need to do," Piniella said. "I had a very similar conversation with [Angel] Guzman. These are talented young kids who need some direction and need to be told what to do and how to do it so they can learn their trade better. There's nothing wrong with that."
Being patient at the plate is a plus. Cedeno is batting .314 this spring. He's been getting a longer look at the ball, which is why the walk total is high. Hopefully, he'll hit more balls to right.
"We'll continue to preach it, believe me," Piniella said. "Just because he's coming north doesn't mean we won't continue. Those are things we have to do."
The Cubs' spring roster is now at 31. Outfielder Felix Pie was optioned to Triple-A Iowa while non-roster invitees Tomas Perez, Les Walrond and Koyie Hill were reassigned to the Minor League camp. Pie, 22, batted .352 in 22 games this spring with one double, one triple and five RBIs.
"He had a lot of at-bats here in camp, and he represented himself well," Piniella said of the highly touted outfielder. "I told him he's going to be a Major Leaguer, and now just wasn't the time for him. He's going to go down there and continue his progress."
Pie impressed Piniella with his defensive ability, his throwing and his running.
"He just needs to improve his hitting some, learn the strike zone better," Piniella said. "It's a nice challenge for him to go down to Triple-A and hit .325, .330 and work the strike zone more and get himself back up to the big leagues."
Center of attention: There's one thing you should know about Alfonso Soriano. He's not a morning person. The center fielder has talked to teammate Aramis Ramirez and former Cub Moises Alou about making the adjustment to day games at home.
"It's the same as Spring Training," Soriano said Monday. "Play, take a nap, go to dinner, back to sleep."
In between getting his winks, Soriano is taking fly balls and getting comfortable in center field. Making the move from left to center isn't that hard. It was harder to switch teams.
"To me, the hard part was when I got traded from the Yankees to Texas," Soriano said of the February 2004 deal. "It wasn't even the position. After that, any trade that happened to me I take it easier and I'm more relaxed."
Soriano actually started his career as a shortstop, was then switched to second, then left field last year with the Washington Nationals. So, is he an infielder or an outfielder?
"Maybe in a couple years I can say I feel like an outfielder," Soriano said. "I'm working hard to be more valuable for the team, so they can put me in any position."
Step by step: Jason Marquis wasn't thrilled with his outing Monday against the Angels -- and neither was Piniella -- and he'll get one more start this spring. Marquis, who will start the third game of the regular season for the Cubs, served up four runs on seven hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings in his fifth start.
"I've got one more start yet, which is nice, and that's the last game in Vegas," Marquis said. "I'm confident with where I'm at. I have to keep working and try to be more consistent."
Which means focusing on keeping his pitches down and in the bottom of the strike zone. Marquis is coming off a season in which he was 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA, and got a head start on his offseason program with an early session with pitching coach Larry Rothschild. So far, so good.
"It's going in the right direction," Marquis said. "I don't think you should ever get complacent or satisfied with where you're at. You always have to keep working. I'm striving for more consistency. That's really the key for me.
"We're headed in the right direction, and hopefully once we get there, we stay there," he said.
"What I see with Marquis at times is he starts getting hit a little bit and he wants to throw harder instead of softening up," Piniella said. "That's one thing he needs to work on. It's OK if he can throw the ball 97, 96 [mph]. He's got a nice arm but it's not that velocity. You've got to figure out a way to get your second and third pitches over and soften them up."
Tickets: Did you miss out on tickets for the Police concert July 5 at Wrigley Field? A second concert will be held July 6. The first concert sold out in less than one hour. Tickets for the second performance will go on sale April 2, and are available at www.tickets.com or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS.
Extra bases: With Kerry Wood not ready for Opening Day, Guzman or Rocky Cherry have a chance at making the final 25-man roster. Cherry appeared in his team-high 10th game Monday, giving up one unearned run on three hits while striking out three. He's struck out 15 in 10 1/3 innings this spring. ... Derrek Lee went 3-for-5 Monday, and is batting .500 this spring. "Derrek Lee's a hitter," Piniella said. ... Mark Prior is on schedule to start Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies. Carlos Zambrano will get his throwing in that day in the Minor League camp. ... Outfielder Buck Coats was to undergo an MRI on his right knee Monday, and results are expected on Tuesday. ... The Reds' rotation for the Cubs' season-opening series will be Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Eric Milton. ... Fans need to understand Piniella can't sign autographs during the game. He's working. "I've asked them in a nice way," Piniella said. "Umpires will not allow us to sign autographs during the game. They know that. You tell them you're not here to sign autographs, you're here to play a baseball game." ... Second baseman Ryan Theriot's decision to throw home in the sixth inning to try to get a runner, a play that didn't work, didn't impress Piniella. "With the infield back, three-run lead, give them the run, get the out and get out of the inning," Piniella said. "The idea was good [to throw home]. The one thing in your favor in baseball are outs. There's no clock, but there are outs. You get outs and it diminishes chances of scoring."
On deck: The Cubs have three games remaining at HoHoKam Park, starting Tuesday when they play host to the Kansas City Royals at 3:05 p.m. CT. Rich Hill is slated to make his fourth start and fifth Cactus League appearance against the Royals' Jorge De La Rosa.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.