Soriano Finally Out of the Leadoff Spot

Soriano batted sixth over the weekend

This time, he really means it. Cubs manager Lou Piniella finally moved left fielder Alfonso Soriano out of the leadoff spot Friday as Soriano continued a slump that's gone on for more than a month.

The idea of moving Soriano has been an on-and-off topic in Chicago since Soriano signed with the team before the 2007 season.

In two games over the weekend, Soriano went 2-for-8 as the No. 6 hitter, with centerfielder Kosuke Fukudome moving up to the leadoff spot. When the Cubs face a lefty, it is likely Piniella will go with Reed Johnson as his leadoff hitter.

Soriano, who has not hit a home run since June 7, cooperated with the move, even though he has a "comfort level" batting first. However, that comfort level hadn't been doing him or the Cubs much good lately.

"Sixth is fine," Soriano said. "I know I'm not doing my job batting leadoff. I hope that whoever is batting leadoff does a better job than what I am doing to help the team win. That's the key."

Piniella has been known to change his mind on lineup shifts, but he said this move was not "day to day" and that the Cubs would stick with it "for a while." Piniella and hitting coach Von Joshua also are looking at tapes and have suggested Soriano move his feet closer together during in his batting stance.

NOTES, QUOTES

--1B Derrek Lee has hit four home runs over his last five games. Lee is batting .285 with 15 homers, 51 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .504.

--Soriano snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a bloop single in the second inning. He also had another bloop hit in the fifth. On Saturday, he batted sixth in the lineup for the first time since Aug. 2, 2005 when he was with Texas.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1.96 -- All-Star LHP Ted Lilly is 5-1 with a sparkling 1.96 ERA in eight starts at Wrigley Field this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was thinking about asking somebody where to buy a win. If there is any store that has a win for me, I'll go there and buy some." -- Carlos Zambrano after pitching well and getting a no-decision last Friday.

ROSTER REPORT

--3B Aramis Ramirez, OF Reed Johnson and RHP Angel Guzman returned from the DL Monday. Piniella said Ramirez would bat fourth upon his return from a dislocated left shoulder, suffered May 8. Ramirez and Johnson both finished minor league rehab stints at Class A Peoria Sunday.

In corresponding moves, the Cubs optioned RHP Kevin Hart and OF Sam Fuld to Class AAA Iowa and placed RHP David Patton on the 15-day disabled list.

--Lilly turned in his team-best 13th quality start. Lilly is 8-6 with a 3.32 ERA. Over his last 42 2/3 innings, he's issued just six walks. He's 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA at home.

--INF/OF Ryan Freel was traded to Kansas City Monday for a player to be named. Freel played in 14 games for the Cubs and batted .143. He was acquired from Baltimore on May 8 for OF Joey Gathright.

--The Sports XChange

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