MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs appear headed to an arbitration hearing with shortstop Ryan Theriot, the first such hearing for the team under general manager Jim Hendry.
Hendry will travel to Tampa, Fla., on Thursday for the hearing, which will be either Friday or Saturday. The shortstop is asking for $3.4 million while the Cubs have countered at $2.6 million. Arbitration hearings are scheduled through Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Cubs have not gone to arbitration with a player since Mark Grace in 1993.
"A lot of times things are settled late, other times they're not," Hendry said. "We haven't been [to a hearing], obviously, in the nine years I've been dealing with arbitration either as the assistant general manager or the general manager. It'll be a first-time experience for us. It's part of the business."
Hendry has settled 36 straight arbitration cases since taking over.
"I think that speaks for itself," Hendry said Wednesday. "We always try to do the right thing, and sometimes you can't avoid the process."
During the hearing, the Cubs have to explain why Theriot isn't worth the money he's asking for. Are the Cubs worried about any bad feelings if Theriot loses his case?
"No -- I've known Ryan since his LSU days," Hendry said. "He'll be an important part of the club this year. We'll get through it. Ryan Theriot will be playing on Opening Day here, and we need him to play well."
The Cubs are projecting Theriot to fill the leadoff spot this year, with Kosuke Fukudome batting second.
"We don't have a player who will steal 40, 50 bases, so that's not what we're going to look for," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Wednesday. "On-base percentage is important, going from first to third is important. Let's see how these guys are swinging the bats.
"I can envision Theriot hitting first, I can envison Fukudome utilizing the two-hole, playing some good first-to-third baseball. I would think Fukudome more in the two-hole than the one-hole.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.