Notes: Fukudome's slot still in question
Manager Piniella hasn't decided where to pencil in outfielder
CHICAGO -- Cubs manager Lou Piniella has been scribbling possible lineups for the 2008 season, and hasn't quite figured out where to insert new outfielder Kosuke Fukudome.
This will be Fukudome's first season with the Cubs after signing a four-year, $48 million deal in December. Piniella likes what the right fielder brings to the team.
"First of all, he's left-handed, he's got some speed, and he's got a good combination of speed and power," Piniella said Wednesday. "We have to figure out where we hit him in the lineup. No. 2 comes to mind, No. 5 comes to mind.
"He's an athlete," Piniella said. "What we're trying to do here in Chicago is get a little more athletic and he has all the athletic skills. It's just a question of where we hit him. He's got a good on-base percentage, and that's the kind of player we're looking for, also. I'm anxious to see him on the field and let him play."
Last season, Piniella used 11 different players in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, and 13 different players batted fifth.
100 and counting: The last time the Cubs won a World Series was 1908. Piniella knows he'll hear about the 100-year drought.
"My message first and foremost to this team -- and I've been thinking about that -- is don't put the load of 99 other years of not winning on you," Piniella said. "Worry about this year only. We've got a good ballclub, don't put any pressure on yourself. Let this team stand on its own merit, and that's really going to be the message as far as Spring Training is concerned.
"You can't re-do the past," he said. "We've got a good chance to go forward. If we start looking at what's happened and for so long, you put undue pressure on yourself. Let this team stand on its own merit and go from there."
Cub fans have been counting the years for a long time.
"In the back of your mind, from the players' standpoint, you want to be one of the guys who is part of a winning team, always, and more importantly here because it's been so long," shortstop Ryan Theriot said. "One hundred years -- wouldn't that be a story line finish? Then we could tell everybody, 'All right, see you all in 100 more years and we'll win another one.'"
Folks, he was joking about waiting another 100 years.
"Last year, it was 99, and we wanted to do it then," Theriot said. "But I can't remember one time, honestly in that clubhouse, when somebody said, we haven't won in 99 years. It wasn't talked about. We want to win for the city of Chicago and ourselves and this organization, and not because of the length of time since we had a championship."
Clinic: There are still openings for Theriot's baseball clinic for high school players to be held Sunday at the MVP Baseball Center in Lake Forest, Ill. The cost is $100 for a two-hour session.
The clinic will include a session for players 14-15 years old from 5-7 p.m. CT, followed by a session for players 16-18 from 7-9 p.m. CT.
For more information, call 847-281-9790, or go to prepbaseballreport.com for an entry form.
Extra bases: Michael Wuertz was one of 110 players to file for salary arbitration. Wuertz is the only member of the Cubs who is arbitration eligible. ... With the addition of Jon Lieber, right-hander Kevin Hart may be slotted into a role as a long reliever rather than considered one of the candidates for a spot in the rotation. ... Piniella has slimmed down from last year. He's been walking three times a week for about an hour each time, and says he's watching what he eats. He did admit his first season with the Cubs was exhausting. "I didn't realize how tired I was until I went home," he said. "Maybe it's because I'm older, but it took me longer than it has in other years -- I don't know if it's working with [the media] here in Chicago. I feel charged up now." ... When did pitcher Rich Hill start getting excited about the 2008 season? "As soon as the [National League Division Series] playoff game was over -- the next day," he said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.