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Piniella still pondering lineup tweaks
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/26/2010 11:15 PM

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It's possible Cubs manager Lou Piniella could do some lineup restructuring as early as Thursday's series finale with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Piniella has been aware of some trends with his hitters and unaware of some others.

For example, he was well aware that the Cubs were 7-0 entering Wednesday when rookie shortstop Starlin Castro bats second.

"Look, with Castro, we're trying to give him as much experience as we can," Piniella said. "Sometimes I have to use him up there at the top of the lineup. We haven't lost a game with him in the second spot. I'm well aware of that.

"I've got (Kosuke) Fukudome. I've got (Ryan) Theriot. We're comfortable with that right now, too. Castro is nice second hitter right now at the major-league level, and he can hit at the back part of the lineup."

Theriot began the season as the leadoff man, but Fukudome has seen significant time there of late. On top of that, Theriot's on-base percentage has been dropping, and he hadn't walked since May 1 entering Wednesday. For the month, he was batting .250 with an on-base percentage of .267.

When Theriot has slumped in the past, Piniella has moved him to the No. 8 spot in the order, something he may try again soon.

"Hitting him eighth, he can walk a little bit because they'll walk him intentionally to face the pitcher from time to time," said Piniella, who expressed surprise that Theriot hadn't walked since May 1.

Two thumbs up: Lou Piniella said he spent part of Monday's off-day looking at film of Derrrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hitting. Both have been in slumps. Lee singled, doubled and homered Tuesday.

"Just a couple of simple little, little things that I thought would free him a little bit," Piniella said. "The amazing thing is that the individual is the one who's got to respond to it and last night he did. He drove the ball well to left-center, out there in the bleachers in right, basehit up the middle."

Speaking of Ramirez, Piniella said the swelling in the third baseman's left hand had gone down and that he'd take some "flip drills" Thursday to see when he can return to the lineup.

Ramirez has been suffering from soreness between his thumb and index finger.

The next phase: Lou Piniella said pitcher Carlos Zambrano would be available out of the bullpen beginning Thursday and going through Saturday. After that, he will go back into the rotation, pitching in one of the games next week at Pittsburgh.

"Carlos has been a starting pitcher here for quite a while with success," Piniella said. "He needs to get back out there and join our rotation and win some ballgames. That's what he needs to do, is pitch well and win some ballgames out of the rotation."