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Thursday, March 15, 2012
Cubs lineup taking shape

By Doug Padilla

MESA, Ariz. -- Manager Dale Sveum seemed to scoff Thursday at the notion of coming up with an Opening Day lineup at this point of the spring, but some tendencies have developed that could be a prelude to the order he uses on the first day of the season.

We already know the leadoff man, and it isn’t going to be Alfonso Soriano. David DeJesus will get that job, although Soriano might still get some days there before the spring ends.

Starlin Castro has been getting plenty of looks in the No. 3 spot, Soriano’s performance this spring has suggested the cleanup spot could be in his future and Bryan LaHair could end up sliding to the No. 5 spot after being considered a cleanup candidate when spring began.

Of course, this top of the order doesn’t address the No. 2 spot. That was one of the lineup’s biggest question marks heading into camp.

That lack of a second hitter could cause the heart of the order to all move up a spot making it, in order from the top: DeJesus, Castro, Soriano and LaHair. All four raise questions, which goes back to the original concept that plenty of consideration was going to have to be put into making a lineup.

In the above scenario, the right-handed hitting Marlon Byrd figures to be destined for the No. 5 spot and the left-handed Ian Stewart for the No. 6 spot. Geovany Soto would be the No. 7 hitter and Darwin Barney would be in the No. 8 spot.

There are plenty of fish-out-of water scenarios in the Cubs’ projected lineup, which is at least part of the reason that betting lines have the Cubs over/under for win total in the low 70s.

Sveum has said he will start committing to a regular lineup about 10 days before the end of spring training, which is still over a week away. They will be playing with split squads through the weekend with half of the team in Las Vegas for a pair of games against the Texas Rangers.

“I’m not really looking into too many lineups,” Sveum said. “The eight guys aren’t playing in too many lineups at the same time so it’s more of right now, like I said, after this Vegas trip is probably when you’ll start seeing the bona fide lineups we’re going to look at maybe on Opening Day.”

Cubs' projected Opening Day lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF
2. Starlin Castro, SS
3. Alfonso Soriano, LF
4. Bryan LaHair, 1B
5. Marlon Byrd, CF
6. Ian Stewart, 3B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Darwin Barney, 2B
9. Pitcher’s spot