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Piniella tinkering with Cubs' lineup

Piniella tinkering with Cubs' lineup

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella continued to think aloud about his lineup on Friday, saying he may move Kosuke Fukudome from fifth to second, which would result in a 3-4-5 combination of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez.

Piniella said he's pleased with Ryan Theriot in the leadoff spot in place of Soriano, but now isn't happy with how Fukudome looks batting fifth.

"We want to make it as comfortable as we can for Fukudome," Piniella said Friday. "I don't know what we can do. We just started to swing the bats a little better, which makes it easier to look at. It seems to me like the two-hole right now would be the best hole for Fukudome."

One of the reasons Piniella dropped Fukudome into the fifth spot was to break up all the right-handed hitters. If Fukudome hits second, that means the Cubs will be right-handed from the third through seventh spots.

Piniella said he may try the switch on Saturday when the Cubs play host to the White Sox at HoHoKam Park. Fukudome, who hit third during much of his career in Japan, was batting .205 in 16 games this spring, hitting third and fifth so far. The hope is that if he's hitting second, Fukudome will think more about getting on base and making contact.

"I think getting acclimated to the league, giving him a better chance to get off to a good start, I think it's probably the best position for him," Piniella said of the Japanese outfielder. "If it's the best position for us as a team, that might be a different story. We moved Soriano from the leadoff hole, and he's comfortable in the two-hole."

So, will Soriano ever lead off again for the Cubs?

"Not right now, no," Piniella said. "With the cold weather in Chicago, taking away that responsibility where he has to run, run, run, that's a recipie where we're looking for problems. We'll keep Theriot in the No. 1 hole."

One thing Piniella does want to do is have the order set before the Cubs get to Las Vegas for their final exhibition games on March 28-29.

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

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