Dale Sveum might bat Alfonso Soriano cleanup
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com February 23, 2012 11:24PM
Updated: March 25, 2012 8:19AM
MESA, Ariz. — Cubs fans might not like it, but considering the team’s dearth of proven run producers, manager Dale Sveum said Thursday he’s considering Alfonso Soriano for the cleanup spot.
The fans figure to like this even less: Sveum is less concerned about Soriano’s occasional ‘‘weird habit’’ of gazing at his long flies that fall short of the seats than he is about getting maximum base-running effort in other areas.
‘‘Billy Hall had a habit of doing that, too, in Milwaukee, but it wasn’t because he didn’t play hard or anything,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘It’s a natural major-league habit. It’s very hard to hit a fly ball that you think might be a home run and sprint to first base. Sure, you want that to happen, but some of those things are actually a habit that’s hard to break in the heat of battle.
‘‘It’s the other things: We want to be able to run balls out to the left side of the field. We want to be able to stretch singles into doubles, take hard turns, run the bases really hard. I know fans don’t like [gazing], but sometimes they have to understand that’s a habit.’’
Sveum said his early thoughts on the lineup include batting David DeJesus leadoff and either Bryan LaHair or Soriano fourth.
‘‘[Soriano’s] the most prolific guy in our lineup who’s done it before,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘He’s a big part of this lineup who’s got to produce.’’
Sveum said he won’t have any special advice for shortstop Starlin Castro when he arrives at camp Friday for his first day of work since dealing with sexual-assault allegations publicized last month.
‘‘Everything’s what it is right now and spring training is upon him, which I’m sure he’s looking forward to,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘Just tell him to be himself and don’t worry about any other distractions. This is baseball season now, and that’s all you’ve got to worry about.’’
Castro, 21, hasn’t spoken publicly about the allegations, which were made the day after last season ended and have yet to be resolved by the authorities. Castro’s representatives have strongly denied any wrongdoing by Castro.
First-day winners in the Cubs’ 64-man match-play bunting tournament: Jeff Beliveau, Lendy Castillo, Trey McNutt, Rafael Dolis, Dae-Eun Rhee, Chris Rusin, Scott Maine and Casey Coleman.