06/18/09 1:35 PM ET
Piniella holds off on lineup changes
Cubs manager talks with Soriano about going to right field
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Cubs manager Lou Piniella hinted after Wednesday's game that he might make some changes in the lineup, but changed his mind for the series finale against the Chicago White Sox. Alfonso Soriano, who was batting .141 in his last 23 games, was still leading off.
Piniella hasn't lost faith in the players.
"I've got confidence in these guys, I've said that all along," he said. "We've got to see something. Me having confidence is good, but eventually it has to translate into some offense on the field -- and it hasn't. Invariably, I'm going to have to do things that I don't want to do, and hopefully, I won't have to.
"I feel for some of these guys, I really do. It bothers me to see them struggle the way they have. It hurts me as a manager. But this is a tough business, and you've got to produce. That's basically the bottom line."
Piniella did wander in the outfield to talk to some of the players. His message? Relax, have fun, hit the ball hard, swing at strikes, stay on top of the ball, make consistent hard outs. But talking is one thing. The Cubs entered Thursday's action ranked 14th in the National League with a team batting average of .244 and had scored one or no runs in 10 of their past 25 games.
"You've got to go up to home plate and execute," Piniella said. "The more relaxed you are, the better you're going to be. They've done it in the past. It's not like we're going from Algebra I to Algebra II and then to Trigonometry. We're doing basically things they've done in the past, and they've done it successfully or they wouldn't be here at this level.
"We're not talking about going from Latin to Greek. There's only so many things the manager and his staff can do. I'll take responsibility, but at the same time, I don't hit. When I played, I hit. Outside of that, all the meetings in the world, I don't think they're very productive."
Piniella said he didn't recall talking to the manager much when he played.
"I think [players] want to be left alone and be left alone to play, and that's basically what we do," he said. "We treat people like men here."
Soriano has been the target of criticism. His on-base percentage has dipped to .291 this season. Last year, it was .344. Piniella has talked to his leadoff hitter about trying to hit to right field more, recalling that Soriano did that successfully when he played for the Yankees.
"Usually, when he hits the ball to right field, he has fairly good success," Piniella said. "I've talked to him about that many times."
As a player, Piniella said he didn't get into prolonged slumps.
"If I did, the manager would call me in and say, 'Look, I have to sit you. Somebody else is going to play,'" Piniella said. "That's it. There's nothing else you can do."
He hasn't gotten to that point yet with the Cubs.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.