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Fighting for Fuld

By Brittany Feagans         

    Unlike Alfonso Soriano, newbie Sam Fuld has something to prove. With starter Soriano severely slumping, it seems Lou Piniella has finally answered the question Cubs fans have been asking for weeks: Who else can we leadoff and play in left field to maximize on-base percentage and minimize errors?

            Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Sam Fuld. Whereas Soriano whines if he doesn’t get to play where and when he wants, Fuld is content to have the opportunity to help out the team.

            In an interview for the Sun-Times, Fuld explained that as a leadoff man his goal is to get on base any way he can, not swing for the fences. He has acknowledged the fact that his time starting isn’t permanent, and wants to make a positive impact on the team.

            When interrogated by reporters regarding Soriano’s lackadaisical leadoff efforts, Piniella mumbled that Sori “likes to leadoff.” Well here’s my question: So what?

            We can’t always get what we want, Soriano. It’s a team sport. The purpose of the leadoff man is to get on base, not to strike out swinging at pitches three feet out of the strike zone in an attempt to be the hero.

            Finally deciding Soriano needed a rest, Piniella called on Fuld to rejuvenate the lineup. And rejuvenate he has.

            With only eight official at-bats, Fuld has hit .500 with an OBP of .600 and a slugging percentage of .750. The 27-year-old has also gone 20 innings in the outfield without making a single error. Take that Soriano.

            While it’s true Soriano has logged 71 games this season, his OBP is a mere .296—not exactly what you want in a leadoff hitter. Besides, Sori’s slugging percentage sits at .423, which is noticeably lower than last year’s acceptable .532.

            Now here’s the kicker: Soriano has the second-lowest batting average for a Cubs starting player. At .230, the only starter in a worse rut is Mike Fontenot, who is batting a meager .220.           

            Even more embarrassing, we’re not even halfway through the 2009 season and Soriano has already racked up seven fielding errors—that’s more than he acquired during each of his last two seasons.

            Maybe Soriano can learn something from Fuld. No matter how much money you make or how white your smile is, there’s nothing more important than raw talent and team spirit.

            If Fuld’s last two games are any indication of his potential, I say we give Soriano an ultimatum: either learn how to get on base and field without that horrendous hop, or say so-long to your cherished leadoff spot and enjoy the bench.


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