Piniella wants more at-bats for regulars

Piniella wants more at-bats for regulars

MESA, Ariz. -- Derrek Lee can't remember how many at-bats he had last spring, but he says it was enough. The Cubs' first baseman can expect the pace to pick up a little bit.

On Tuesday, Lou Piniella said he'd like to increase the number of at-bats for the regular players. There may be more on the bus rides to Tucson.

"I was looking at at-bats today, and over these next 2-½-to-three weeks in camp, we need to get a lot of at-bats for these guys," Piniella said. "We're way behind schedule. I like 60, 70 at-bats for everyday players, and we're not going to be able to do that -- so we better get 50, 60."

As far as Piniella is concerned, Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto are "way behind schedule." Mark DeRosa also is behind, but that's because he was out to undergo treatment for an irregular heartbeat. DeRosa made his Cactus League debut on Monday.

"I thought we were getting quite a few at-bats," Lee said Tuesday. "I'm happy with my pace."

It's not that he's disagreeing with Piniella.

"You know Lou -- Lou likes things now," Lee said, laughing.

Lee, who entered Tuesday's game 3-for-21, does admit he needs more time to prepare for the regular season. By the way, he had 59 at-bats in 2007 Cactus League play.

"I'm definitely not in sync," Lee said. "I also don't think I'm at the point where [I need extra work]. I know what I have to do. I don't feel like I have to get four at-bats [per game] to get ready."

The Cubs' lineup Tuesday was very close to what it will be on Opening Day, with Fukudome batting third and Lee batting fourth. Piniella also will insert Fukudome fifth at some point this spring to see how that looks. The plan is to find one lineup and stick with it.

"We're not going to be moving around too much, believe me," Piniella said, "unless we're losing baseball games. And if we do, we'll have to do something. I don't anticipate that. We'll see how it works."

In Tuesday's game, a 6-4 loss to Oakland, the Cubs collected seven hits, but Piniella wasn't happy with the number of quality at-bats.

"We have to concentrate a little more and get a little more out of the at-bat," Piniella said. "Sometimes you get as much taking pitches as you do swinging the bat.

"This is a funny game," he added. "You can talk about, 'Well, we have time,' and you can be talking about it a week from now that we still have time. Let me see it here soon."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.