Soriano to move back atop lineup

Soriano to move back atop lineup

CHICAGO -- It only took two games for Lou Piniella to change his mind and put Alfonso Soriano back on top of the Cubs' lineup.

Piniella said Soriano will lead off on Thursday in the Cubs' series finale against the Milwaukee Brewers. Soriano is 0-for-9 with three strikeouts so far. Last season, when he led off, the Cubs went 69-56.

The news came after the Cubs dropped to 0-2, losing, 8-2, to the Brewers on Wednesday.

"I don't think it matters where 'Sori' hits -- he's going to hit," Chicago's Derrek Lee said. "I can't say that's going to get 'Sori' going or anything. It's just two games. 'Sori's' going to hit, he's going to be fine."

Was Lee surprised by the move?

"I guess I shouldn't be," Lee said, chuckling. "Lou likes to shuffle things around."

In Piniella's pregame media briefing, the manager seemed annoyed at questions about the Cubs' lineup and the fact that it was the same as on Opening Day.

"We'll stay with this lineup as long as we can, and hopefully we don't have to change it," he said before Wednesday's first pitch, which just happened to clear the left-field bleachers as Rickie Weeks connected off Chicago's Ted Lilly.

Piniella said it wasn't just Wednesday's game that prompted him to change his mind and flip-flop Soriano with Ryan Theriot.

"It's something I've been thinking about since the end of Spring Training, and we'll go with it," Piniella said. "Soriano is running better. We'll put him in the leadoff hole, where he's more comfortable, and let him hit there."

Is Soriano more comfortable batting first?

"[Alfonso] Soriano is running better. We'll put him in the leadoff hole, where he's more comfortable, and let him hit there."
-- Manager Lou Piniella

"I've batted leadoff all my career," Soriano said. "I feel comfortable batting leadoff. It's my first time batting second this year. But I'm seeing the same pitches. It's not a big deal for me. I'm the same guy, batting leadoff, batting second, I'm the same guy."

Piniella may change his mind again.

"He's the manager," Soriano said. "I'm not surprised."

This spring, the thinking was that by inserting Soriano into the second spot, he would not run as much and could protect his legs. He missed time with injuries to his left hamstring last April and his right quad in August.

"I feel 100 percent," Soriano said. "I have to play smart, be careful. In this weather, sometimes you feel good. I have to be careful."

Soriano batted .308 leading off last season and has a .295 average in his career. He's not worried about being hitless so far.

"It's not like one month, a month and a half -- it's only two games," Soriano said. "I know where I am. I believe in myself, and that's more important."

Theriot, who batted .300 in 34 games as the Cubs' leadoff man last season subbing for Soriano, didn't care where he hit either, as long as he was in the lineup.

"It doesn't surprise me," Theriot said. "It's something we tinkered with a little bit last year. I embrace it. I think it'll be good. For me, it's a spot I've been in pretty much my whole career. It's a spot I'm comfortable in, and we'll see what happens."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.