Byrd could bat leadoff against lefties
That didn't take long. After watching his team lose 3-2 to the Astros in 10 innings Sunday, Cubs manager Lou Piniella vowed a batting-order shakeup, at least against left-handed pitching.
Piniella said he expects to move center fielder Marlon Byrd up to the leadoff spot and drop leadoff man Ryan Theriot down to the eighth slot when the Cubs face left-handed pitching. Byrd batted second Sunday against Houston lefty Wandy Rodriguez and went 3-for-5 with two RBI. Second baseman Jeff Baker moved from seventh to second against lefties.
"I'm going to change the lineup around a little bit," Piniella said. "See if we can spur this offense on a little bit. ... See if that does a little more for us. ... Shake it up a little bit."
Piniella will get to see his plan, if he follows through with it, in action plenty this week. The Cubs open a three-game series Monday in New York against the Mets, who will throw lefties Jonathan Niese, Oliver Perez and Johan Santana at them in the four-game series.
Both Byrd and Theriot said they would go along with whatever Piniella wants to do.
"I guess it's worth a shot; see what happens," Theriot said.
ASTROS 3, CUBS 2 (10 innings): The Astros scored single runs in each of the eighth, ninth and 10th innings as the Cubs blew a 2-0 lead, depriving righty Ryan Dempster of a victory. Dempster worked 7 2/3 innings of four-hit, one-run ball but came away with a no-decision. Right-hander Carlos Marmol suffered the blown save and lefty Sean Marshall took the loss, giving up a sacrifice fly to Pedro Feliz in the 10th. Byrd singled home the Cubs' two runs in the third.
--LHP Tom Gorzelanny will start Thursday at New York, as scheduled. He had a bruise on his upper left arm after being hit with a line drive Saturday off the bat of Feliz. Gorzelanny was hit in the third inning, which he finished. However, he did not go back out for the fourth.
--LF Alfonso Soriano says he no longer will "hop" before fielding flyballs. Soriano entered Sunday having made three errors in the first two weeks of the season. Piniella has been removing Soriano for defense late in games.
"I would advocate something like that, yes," Piniella said. "We've talked about that in the past. All it can do is make your head bob and your eyes move and the ball flutter. It's like catching a knuckleball. If you can keep stable, catch it conventionally, I think it will help him."
--1B Derrek Lee and Theriot each had eight-game hitting streaks end. Lee struck out twice and hit into a double play. Theriot struck out in the eighth inning and went 0-for-5. "I hit the ball hard today, didn't have much to show for it," Theriot said.
--RHP Esmailin Caridad, on the DL since April 14 with a strained right forearm, will head to Arizona to begin a throwing program.
"He's been doing all his strength work and his running," Piniella said.
--LHP James Russell has been a surprise out of the bullpen in his rookie season, as he's given up no runs in five games. However, he may be the odd-man out when pitchers start coming off the DL. Piniella said Russell's future might include a different role.
"We like Russell," Piniella said. "He's the third left-hander in the bullpen, which makes it a little harder to use because we've got to keep the two in front of him sharp. We like Russell. Russell, probably is, when you project him, a future starter down the road."
BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- Marshall struck out 12 of the first 25 batters he faced without walking anyone in his first six appearances out of the bullpen. Over the first two weeks, he was the Cubs' most effective reliever next to Marmol.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "What do I do? I pray." -- Piniella on his shaky eighth-inning bullpen situation.