Byrd to hit fifth in Cubs lineup

Updated: January 16, 2010, 10:12 PM ET
By Melissa Isaacson | ESPNChicago.com

Marlon Byrd has his work cut out for him in 2010.

The center fielder was the Chicago Cubs' biggest free agent signing in the offseason, and manager Lou Piniella expects to put him fifth in the batting order going into spring training.

"That, to me, is the most important thing to our team this year offensively -- who hits fifth," Piniella said at the annual Cubs Convention.

Piniella said he plans to take a look at both Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot as the team's potential leadoff hitter. From there, he seems confident in his spring training order.

"We have Derrek Lee who's a wonderful, wonderful three hitter," Piniella said. "[Aramis]Ramirez is very productive at the four spot. And we've settled in with Soriano at the six hole, and I think he's comfortable with it. We really just have the fifth hole to look at, and I've talked to the new hitting coach [Rudy Jaramillo] at length about Marlon, and he thinks he can fit in there."

Byrd had 94 at-bats in the five spot last season with the Texas Rangers, where he hit .223 with eight RBIs. He spent the most time in the cleanup spot, where he hit .306 with 39 RBIs and 11 home runs in 193 at-bats.

Milton Bradley, who spent the most time in the as the Cubs' No. 5 hitter last season, hit .217 in with nine RBI and three home runs in 106 at-bats in that spot.

Melissa Isaacson

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for espnW.com, ESPN Chicago and ESPN.com. The award-winning writer has covered Chicago sports for most of her 31-year career, including at the Chicago Tribune before joining ESPN in 2009. Isaacson has also covered tennis since 1986.

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