3/4 The hit parade
Lou Piniella feels the Cubs will have a better offense this year and if the first Cactus League game is any indication, they will score more runs. Derrek Lee, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Sam Fuld and Brad Snyder all hit home runs in a 9-3 win over the Athletics. Byrd downplayed his blast.
“April in Chicago, that’s an out,” he said.
Having a healthy Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto back will help the offense, Lee said. The Cubs will be more right-handed this year.
“If you can hit, you can hit,” Lee said. “It doesn’t hurt to have a big left-handed bopper in the middle of the order. If the hitter is right-handed and he can hit, he can hit. It doesn’t matter who’s pitching.”
Colvin went 3-for-3, and Piniella said the Cubs’ 2006 No. 1 Draft pick does have a chance to make the Opening Day roster. He’s added 25 quality pounds this offseason.
“Why not? I’ve said that,” Piniella said of Colvin. “We’ll let these guys compete. I have no idea [who will make it], I’ll be honest with you. We’ll let these young guys compete. There are some jobs to be won here.”
* How much influence has new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo had?
“Ask me in September,” Lee said. “It’s too early. I don’t think he can even say everything he’s said has soaked in. It takes time. He’ll keep preaching his message and you take what works for you into the game.”
* Starlin Castro took over at shortstop for Ryan Theriot in the fifth inning and went 1-for-3 with a triple in the eighth.
“Castro is smooth at shortstop,” Piniella said. “That ball he drove into right center field [for the triple], he hit that ball like a big man. That ball jumped off the bat.”
— Carrie Muskat