MESA, Ariz. -- With no slam-dunk option for the leadoff spot, manager Dale Sveum said he is willing to give Alfonso Soriano another chance to produce in the role.
That news comes not long after Sveum said that Soriano will also get consideration for the cleanup spot.
Soriano was batting leadoff Friday for the White Team in the Cubs’ first intrasquad game of the spring. He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
“He asked me like a couple of days ago what I think about batting leadoff and I said to him that I’m open,” Soriano said. “Any decision he makes, I’m happy. … I feel very comfortable because most of my career I bat leadoff and I’m very comfortable. But the most important is that I am healthy so any part of the lineup I’ll be great; I’ll be fine.”
Depending on how it’s looked at, Soriano has had varying degrees of success (or failure) as a leadoff hitter, the spot he has hit at the most in his career. Soriano has 3,630 plate appearances there with the next highest being the 798 plate appearances he has received in the No. 6 spot.
Soriano hasn’t been in the starting lineup as the leadoff hitter since the 2009 season, though, when he got 70 games there.
“The one thing about Soriano is that his numbers as a leadoff hitter are pretty good in his career,” Sveum said. “Whether he’s leading off a game or leading off an inning, his numbers are pretty incredible over his career. If you want to get into the details of why you might come up with something like that it could be as simple as that.”
Soriano has a .288 batting average and a .339 on-base percentage as a leadoff hitter in his career. Breaking that down even further, he has a .310 batting average and a .350 on-base percentage as the first batter of a game. As the first batter of an inning he is batting .289 with a .331 on-base percentage.
“It’s going to be a different lineup every day,” Sveum said. “You’ll see a different leadoff hitter pretty much every day. I told them we’ll probably have a set lineup sometime by the middle of March, and they’ll know (by then) probably where they will be hitting on Opening Day. So we’re not looking into any of the lineups right now.”
Soriano might not be ideal in either the leadoff spot or the cleanup spot, but Sveum isn’t going to commit to, or rule out, anything right now.
“We don’t have the bona fide guys at any position in the order,” he said.
If there is any time to experiment, it certainly is now.
“I don’t know maybe he’ll try something in spring training because I think now is the right time to do it,” Soriano said. “He will see how I look, how the team looks and he’ll make the decision.”