Piniella considering Soriano in center
Manager 'intrigued' by idea of star manning middle of outfield
CHICAGO -- New Cubs manager Lou Piniella may have found the solution for center field at the Cubs Convention. What about Alfonso Soriano in center?
"I'm intrigued by the idea," Piniella said Saturday after a question and answer session at the winter fan fest. "When we recruited him, we didn't talk about center, we talked about the corners."
Piniella wanted to talk to Soriano first before making the possibility public, and thought they'd consider the idea in Spring Training. But Soriano, the team's new $136 million outfielder, apparently said he'd like to play center during a radio interview Friday night at the convention.
"Now that he's mentioned it, it makes a lot of sense," Piniella said.
The Cubs have yet to designate a starting center fielder. Matt Murton is projected as the regular in left, and Soriano was expected to take over right field. That alignment would move Jacque Jones to center -- at least until Felix Pie was ready.
Pie, 21, will get plenty of at-bats this spring, but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry cautioned that he wanted to make sure the young outfielder was ready for the big leagues.
"Those kind of players, they let you know when they're ready," Hendry said.
An outfield of Murton, Soriano and Jones could work just fine, Piniella said.
"It makes perfect sense to try," Piniella said. "We've talked about how do we get our best hitters and combination on the field.
"If Soriano can do it, that would take care of a lot."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.