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Columnist
New lament for Lou: Being too right-handed?
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/7/2009 11:34 PM

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Just call it a variation on the theme of Lou's Lament.

You remember Lou's Lament.

During and after the Cubs' ill-fated playoff run last year, Cubs manager Lou Piniella lamented his team's scarcity of "left-hand" hitters to go up against the Dodgers' "right-hand" pitching.

In Tuesday night's 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Houston Astros, the Cubs were up against a "left-hand" pitcher" in Wandy Rodriguez. Piniella could have gone with an all-right-handed hitting lineup by replacing the left-handed hitting Mike Fontenot at second base with switch hitter Aaron Miles.

Lou didn't do that.

Instead, he kept Fontenot in the lineup but dropped him from sixth in the order to eighth, moving Ryan Theriot up from eighth to second. Talking with the assembled reporters before the game and with radio man Ron Santo, Piniella said he liked the idea of a left-handed hitter in the lineup against a southpaw. Piniella reasoned that having a left-handed hitter in there forces the pitcher to work both sides of the plate and also makes that pitcher widen his repertoire a bit.

On top of it, Fontenot had a nice Opening Day, going 3-for-4.

Things didn't work out as planned. The offense was largely silent for much of Tuesday's game, managing just 6 hits for the night, but the point is Piniella always seems to have an offensive game plan and that he's willing to try different things.

One change Piniella did make was to replace Kosuke Fukudome in center field with Reed Johnson. In the second inning, Johnson drew a walk. He singled in the fourth and looked to have an infield hit in the ninth, but first-base umpire Bill Miller thought otherwise.

The center-field situation is one worth watching.

Caught stealing: This space has long been a defender of shortstop Ryan Theriot, particularly his offensive game. If there's one thing the Cubs probably ought to rethink, it's trying to use Theriot as a stolen-base threat.

After Alfonso Soriano homered to tie Tuesday's game at 2-2 in the eighth, Theriot singled to right field, the fifth time in two games he hit the ball the other way. With Derrek Lee up, Theriot was caught stealing at second base.

Last year, Theriot stole 22 bases while being caught 13 times. That's a 63 percent success rate, well below the 75 percent most of my friends in the stats community deem necessary to make the reward worth the risk.

Theriot did manage to get on base twice (plus a sacrifice fly) Monday and three times Tuesday, including a double he pulled to left field.