Scouting Report

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:52 PM ET

MESA, Ariz. -- Alfonso Soriano making his debut in centre field?

That's the plan for the Chicago Cubs after general manager Jim Hendry gave the free agent an eight-year $136 million US contract.

"Lou Piniella really helped with the recruiting, both on Soriano and Ted Lilly," said Hendry.

The problem for the Cubs is Soriano has never played centre field and they certainly don't want their investment doing a full-throttle, face plant into the ivy-covered brick wall in centre at Wrigley Field.

"We'll know about halfway through spring whether Alfonso can play centre. I know about how long it takes," laughed Piniella. "I hit lead-off for the 1969 expansion Kansas City Royals ... very first hitter, very first game for the franchise.

"Yep, lead-off and I was in centre field. It only took our manager Joe Gordon 10 games to move me to left."

Piniella suggested Jacques Jones if Soriano does not adjust to centre, since he played there with the Minnesota Twins. Jones hasn't play more than 10 games in centre since 2000.

"The thing you have to remember about Soriano is that last year he was in left and two years ago he was playing second base," Piniella said.

Despite being unhappy in left and demanding to play second with the Washington Nationals, Soriano hit .277 with 46 homers, driving in 95 runs and stealing 41 bases.

"Where he plays is a question," Piniella said, "but let's be honest, we got him to buggy whip that bat and steal bases. I don't want him worrying about catching the ball to the point where it affects his swing."

If Soriano stays in centre then the Cubs will play either Matt Murton or Cliff Floyd in left with Jones in right.


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