Cubs

McKnight: Soriano Locked Into Middle Of Cubs Lineup

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Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs follows through on a two-RBI double scoring Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena during the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on September 3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs follows through on a two-RBI double scoring Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena during the seventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on September 3, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)

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By Connor McKnight-

MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — Alfonso Soriano will get plenty of chances to hit this season.

People used to wonder where Soriano would hit in the lineup. Whether leadoff, clean-up or eight-spot Soriano has hit from nearly everywhere.

This year, manager Dale Sveum has cleared up a lot of confusion.

“He is our one, bona fide hitter that’s proven,” Sveum said. “He’s put up big numbers before and he’s swinging the bat great this spring. I don’t see him hitting anywhere else but three, four or five.”

Is it news that Soriano is, once again, considered the heart of the lineup? I suppose not. Not when you look at most of the other hitters around him.

What’s more, it may not stay that way. Whether it was Bryan LaHair batting fourth or David DeJesus in the leadoff spot, Sveum has waffled on a number early lineup decisions throughout spring.

Certainly hitting Soriano in the meat of the order–preferably behind Starlin Castro–has it’s benefits. It’s the one place he’s most likely to hit with base runners and he’ll get more at-bats which translates into more opportunities for the Cubs to try and find a taker for the $54 million left on his deal.

In the long term, it’s hard to fathom any team seriously looking at Soriano–even if he finishes Spring with his other-worldy 1.412 slugging percentage and .24 home runs per at bat pace. (That works out to 120 homers in 500 at bats, in case you’re reaching for a calculator.)

Slowing Down May Help Travis Wood

In just 2.2 innings spread over two games (only one start), Travis Wood has managed to acquire a grotesque 20.25 ERA, a brutal 3.75 WHIP and a ghastly .462 average against. Wood told reporters yesterday that, while still early in spring, it’s time to get things in gear. His manager thinks going the other way–slowing things down–will help. While on the mound anyway.

“His personality, I think, is built that way,” Sveum said. “He’s a hyper guy. I know we don’t talk a whole lot but, on the mound and the way he works–that guy is going 100 miles a minute all the time. He’s just got to slow down a little bit.”

There’s more work for Wood to do above the shoulders. Sveum says Wood needs to learn the finer points of pitching.

“He’s kind of learning how to pitch instead of just bullying his way through a lineup,” Sveum said. “I think that’s going to take a little more time for him.

Cubs Cut Eight

The Cubs have moved Jeff Beliveau, Alberto Cabrera, John Gaub and Josh Vitters to Triple-A Iowa. They’ve also assigned Junior Lake and Matt Szczur to AA-Tennessee and assigned catcher Jason Jaramillo to minor league camp. The cuts bring the Major League roster down to 48.

While most of the names aren’t all that surprising, it’s notable that Vitters and Gaub have been dismissed so early. With indecision in the bullpen and the fact that Gaub throws from the left side, it seemed he’d get a longer look.

For more Cubs spring training coverage from Mesa, Ariz, click here. Find all of Connor McKnights’s spring training blogs here and follow him on Twitter (@McKnight670).

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