3/2 Could Soriano lead off? Why not?
Dale Sveum tried to downplay the significance of Friday’s intrasquad lineups but it was unusual to see Alfonso Soriano back in the No. 1 spot. Soriano has a career .288 average as a leadoff man with 197 of his total homers there. Soriano led off in one game last year, none in 2010, and 70 in 2009. Sveum said it’s not out of the question the left fielder could bat first in the regular season.
“The one thing about Soriano is that his numbers as a leadoff hitter are pretty good in his career,” Sveum said. “If you want to get into details of why you might come up with something like that, it could be as simple as that. We don’t have the bona fide guys at any position in the order. We don’t have any guys who have driven in runs in the big leagues. [Starlin] Castro is probably the most talented and best hitter we have to hit third. Do we have that base stealer to leadoff or an on-base guy? [David] DeJesus probably fills that as much as anyone. But we don’t have a lot of cut and dried spots where you say, this guy is this, this guy is that. It’s not that easy with this lineup.”
Sveum said he expects to finalize the lineup by the middle of March after he’s seen players in games. The ideal place for Soriano is in an RBI spot, Sveum said, and the same is true for Castro.
“He’s a great hitter,” Sveum said of the shortstop. “He’s proven to be able to do what he’s done in almost two years playing every day. That’s pretty impressive numbers to put up so that a guy like that should be put in an RBI spot. When and at what time, that’s always the million dollar question with young hitters. Can they handle hitting in the heart of the lineup?”
— Carrie Muskat