Piniella's eyes open for extra infielder
Cubs pinch-hit situations could reveal shallow depth
LAS VEGAS -- Mike Fontenot figures to see plenty of action at second base for the Cubs in 2009, not to mention some time at third base, where he started Thursday afternoon against the White Sox at Cashman Field.
Ryan Theriot, who had Thursday off aside from a ninth-inning pinch-hit sacrifice fly, will be the team's primary starting shortstop, while Aaron Miles will get on-field action at both second and, at times, at shortstop. But Cubs manager Lou Piniella still appears to be looking for one more infielder.
"It just might be, when it's all said and done, we might have to have an extra infielder that can play first and third," said Piniella, following his team's 4-3 loss to the White Sox. "I'll tell you why.
"Assuming that we stay the way we are, all of a sudden, we need to pinch-hit and we've got Miles or Fontenot or Theriot sitting on the bench. Once I use them, I've got no more infielders. We're done. And these kids here are our nice options to send up late in the ballgame because they're athletic, they can hit, they can run. But, boy, once you make a move, we don't have any more infielders."
Recently signed Corey Koskie will get a look to fill this opening, according to Piniella, when he returns from representing Canada in the World Baseball Classic. But the infielder Piniella needs and wants possibly might not be with the Cubs currently.
"Maybe Koskie, we'll see," Piniella said. "We've been playing these guys that are all in camp here, and I haven't seen anybody who has stood out. They are all doing representative jobs, but I haven't seen anybody, as of yet, that we can say, 'Well, this is the guy.' Our scouts keep looking.
"We're not looking at this as a platoon, more like a mix. We're going to play Theriot the most at short, but we're going to give Miles some at-bats there, too. Just looking at it, we might be a little short there in numbers."
Fontenot, who had two more hits against the White Sox on Thursday, sounds ready to make the most of his opportunity.
"Last year coming into camp, I was fighting to make the team," Fontenot said. "This year, it's more of an opportunity to maybe get one of the everyday jobs, so I was excited coming into camp.
"The situation right now is we're battling for the second-base job, and we're both going to get a lot of at-bats. Do I feel like I can play every day? Yeah, that's what everyone wants to do. But when it comes down to it, I'll do whatever it takes, wherever they want me. I'm all for it."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.