Alfonso Soriano in odd spot with all the rookies
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org August 6, 2012 10:28PM
CUBS AT PADRES
The facts: 9:05 p.m., CSN+, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Brooks Raley (MLB debut) vs. Ross Ohlendorf (3-2, 6.27 ERA).
Updated: September 8, 2012 6:21AM
SAN DIEGO — The big-league player-development process the Cubs are undergoing is also a learning process for 12-year veteran Alfonso Soriano.
‘‘Sometimes I just feel like I’m in the wrong lineup,’’ said Soriano, who in six seasons with the Cubs has gone from megamillions free-agent leadoff man for a playoff team to the only player left from his first game with the Cubs in 2007.
And that was never more apparent than when he scanned the lineup before the Cubs opened a three-game series Monday against the Padres.
Center fielder Brett Jackson was in the leadoff spot one day after making his big-league debut. Third baseman Josh Vitters was making his first big-league start. In all, half the position players were rookies, and five guys overall had spent large chunks of time in the minors this year.
‘‘It’s the future; all those guys have a lot of talent,’’ Soriano said. ‘‘Hopefully, in two or three years, they can put it together.’’
He knows he’s not likely to be around for that day.
‘‘But I don’t want to see it as a negative thing; I want to see it as a positive,’’ he said. ‘‘All these young guys, they can [remind] me to stay hungry, and I can teach them how to play the game.’’
The team’s top run producer who has made inspiring improvement in the field, Soriano said this youth movement keeps him on his toes.
‘‘I cannot do anything wrong because they [watch] me,’’ he said. ‘‘I have to be more careful how I play the game because those guys aren’t veterans like me. I’ve got to do my job perfect to teach them the right way.’’
Get ready for a long end to the summer.
With the dramatic turn toward youth in the last week, manager Dale Sveum admitted the emphasis shifts away from wins and losses.
‘‘You know we’re going to be behind the eight ball a little bit,’’ he said, ‘‘when you have to match up against the Dodgers’ lineup or their bullpen, things like that. … As a manager, you probably do some things you wouldn’t do in certain situations, just to see how a guy handles certain situations for the future.
‘‘You might leave him in [longer as a pitcher] just to see if it’s a situation that he’s comfortable with or get him in those situations so that some day it will be comfortable.’’
For the second time, All-Star Bryan LaHair is the odd man out because of the promotion of a top prospect.
Five weeks ago, he was moved from first to right field with Anthony Rizzo’s call-up, and this week he has gone to the bench to make room for Jackson.