07/26/09 2:46 PM ET
Inbox: Should Bradley only bat righty?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers Cubs fans' questions
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
OK, so Milton Bradley is struggling from the left side of the plate but seems to be hitting the ball well from the right side. Is there any thought of him dumping switch-hitting and sticking to the right side, even against right-handed pitching?
-- Rob E., Randolph, Neb.
That was brought up to Lou Piniella and Bradley during the Cubs' recent trip to Philadelphia, and dismissed by both the manager and the outfielder. One reason it won't happen is that the Cubs signed Bradley to a three-year, $30 million contract because they wanted more left-hand hitting in the lineup. He began this season a career .271 hitter from the left side with more homers (68 vs. 35) than he's hit right-handed. Piniella and hitting coach Von Joshua are trying to get Bradley to eliminate some of the wiggle in his bat to help him relax at the plate. Will he stop hitting left-handed? No.
How come the Cubs are not open to a big trade? They need to get more efficient players and get rid of players who are not up to par. They need a second baseman and a right fielder. We need much more production from the team. Why is Jim Hendry not doing anything? Is he going to counter for the Cardinals getting Matt Holliday?
-- Eryk H., Chicago
The Cubs will tell you it's business as usual, but they are limited in what they can do because the ownership situation has not been resolved. Plus, the feeling is that they have the players -- they just need to perform as expected. There are signs of improvement, especially with the return of Aramis Ramirez to the lineup. Mike Fontenot was batting .283 in his last 17 games, Kosuke Fukudome was hitting .414 during an eight-game hitting streak, and Alfonso Soriano is batting .438 in his eight-game hitting streak. The Cubs will "get" a new player when Geovany Soto returns in early August. They've stayed close despite having the starting lineup together only two games this year.
Since Soriano has been in a slump (despite two homers in D.C.), Lou has moved him down in the order. Does Lou plan on moving Soriano back to the leadoff spot once he starts to hit again or continue to leave him down in the order? Also, earlier in the year, Soriano said he would play second to allow Micah Hoffpauir to get some at-bats. Since Fontenot has struggled this year as an everyday guy, is Lou considering putting Soriano at second and giving more playing time to Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld and Jake Fox in left field?
-- Jacob G., Vestavia Hills, Ala.
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I think Soriano is feeling better about the switch. Since he moved out of the leadoff spot, he's thriving. Soriano was batting .348 in his last 17 games, with three homers and eight RBIs. After hitting .228 (69-for-302) as the Cubs' leadoff man, he's hitting .392 (20-for-51) in the sixth spot. The All-Star break came at a perfect time for Soriano, who said he used the three days off to clear his mind. He says his confidence is back.
"I like batting leadoff," he said. "Now, batting sixth, I'm getting comfortable and I'm getting comfortable at the right time. Batting sixth, there's a little pressure on me. I don't have to try to get on base, just see the ball and hit it. It's a different part of the game for me."
As for playing second base, just look at Soriano's errors. There's a reason he was moved to the outfield.
This may seem like a stretch of a question but a necessary one at that. It seems like late in every game, Lou is hesitant to bat Fox in a big situation because losing him off the bench would mean our backup catcher is gone. With that said, who would be the emergency catcher if a situation arose where Fox was already out of the game?
-- Kevin B., Libertyville, Ill.
Piniella has joked that pitcher Randy Wells, a converted catcher, is his emergency backstop. Let's hope it doesn't get to that.
I haven't heard anything about Aaron Miles since he was put on the DL back in June. When is he expected to be back?
-- Philip S., Elmhurst, Ill.
Miles is rehabbing at Triple-A Iowa, and as of Sunday, was batting .216 (11-for-51) in 12 games with three RBIs. If he was doing better, he would've been called up. Speaking of emergency catchers, Miles would be the No. 3 guy if he were on the roster.
What brand or model is Kevin Gregg's glasses that he wears when he pitches?
-- Dylan W., Angola, Ill.
Gregg wears Oakley's, and said it's a model called "Flak Jacket." Angel Guzman also wears Oakley's.