ST. LOUIS -- The Cubs don't have many backup options at third base with Aramis Ramirez sidelined at least one month because of a dislocated shoulder. Lou Piniella has been considering the possibilities.
"The only other option we would have -- and you all are going to like this one -- is move [Alfonso] Soriano to second and [Micah] Hoffpauir to left," Piniella said Thursday. "Hopefully, it doesn't get to that. That, again, is a measure of last resort."
What has to happen for the Cubs to do that?
"We'll explore all our other options [first]," Piniella said. "I feel very comfortable with our outfield with Soriano in left field. I want to get Hoffpauir in the lineup. I want to give everybody else the opportunity to swing the bats the way they're capable. I've talked about it with Alan [Trammell, bench coach]. I would think it's a very remote possibility, but we'll see."
Hoffpauir, who was batting .314, can play either corner outfield spot or first base. Has Piniella talked about it with Soriano?
"Very briefly, in a passing nature," Piniella said. "We haven't had a prolonged conversation about it."
Soriano didn't laugh when Piniella discussed it. He did play second base for five years with the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, but he also averaged 21 errors a season as an infielder.
"Let's just keep that in the back of our heads, nothing more, nothing less," Piniella said. "Maybe that was a 3:30 in the morning thought last night."
Piniella did tweak the lineup Thursday, moving Mike Fontenot back to second base and starting Ryan Freel at third. Fontenot was batting .197 as a third baseman and .213 when playing second entering the game.
"You ask a guy to move to a different position and you start putting a lot of thought into that, and it might detract from your hitting," Piniella said. "We'll put him back at second base and see if it helps him offensively. We need his bat, whether it's second or third. We need for him to hit some."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.