Notes: Floyd feels ready, Cubs cautious
Murton to bat No. 2 in spring opener; Piniella shares to-do list
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs outfielder Cliff Floyd is not expected to play in the first week of games as a precautionary measure to give his left foot more time to heal.
"If you talk to Floyd, he'll tell you he's ready to go," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Wednesday. "I'm sure in his mind he is. Talking to the medical staff, they want to see. They want to see a little more."
The Cubs medical staff also nixed using Floyd as a pinch-hitter or designated hitter in the first week to 10 days. The problem is that Floyd could re-injure himself running, not hitting. Floyd had surgery in October to treat a bone spur in his left foot.
"I'm ready to go, but I have to do as I'm told," Floyd said.
He doesn't have any pain, and he was hitting enough solid line drives to right field during batting practice Wednesday that forced Derrek Lee to move behind the screen at first base to get out of the way.
"I'm putting as much torque as I can on [his swing] because that's what I want to feel," Floyd said. "I want to feel what's going on when I go on the field. We all know that when the game starts, swings, running for balls in the gap, diving, it all changes. I know they want to be 100 percent sure. I have to be out there on the field. That's going to be a goal for me."
He will likely get extra at-bats at the Minor League complex at Fitch Park as well.
"Let me put it this way -- what I have right now, it's 100 times better than what I've had the last four, five years," he said. "I don't think they want to put me out there and take a chance at going back a step. We accomplished that I feel good enough to do my stuff."
Get your scorecard: Piniella's lineup for Thursday's Cactus League opener will feature Alfonso Soriano in center and leading off, followed by Matt Murton in left, Lee at first, Aramis Ramirez at third, Michael Barrett catching, Jacque Jones in right, Mark DeRosa at second, Cesar Izturis at short and Jason Marquis pitching.
Murton had limited at-bats in the No. 2 spot last season, and was 4-for-13. He hit fifth, sixth and seventh most of the time.
"He's a patient hitter," Piniella said of the 25-year-old outfielder. "He hits the ball well to right-center field. He saw more pitches at bat than any other Cub last year. We've got pretty good speed in the leadoff spot. I told [Izturis] we'll put him in the two-hole from time to time, too. We'll mix and match these lineups a little bit and we'll settle on something."
Murton was excited about batting second.
"You have to be smart about what you're doing in the second hole and make sure, if Alfonso is stealing, you don't take away a stolen base," Murton said. "I feel comfortable doing it. You have to be able to hit behind the runners. Hitting second, hopefully, you'll get more pitches to see. Alfonso is a stolen-base threat, and you'll see more fastballs. At this point in time in my career, fastballs are my best pitch.
"It's also the first game of Spring Training, and not a big deal," Murton said. "But I think the two-hole is an interesting spot this year."
Final 25: The Cubs open Cactus League play with a few decisions to make in the next month.
"We've got one spot in the rotation, the way I see it," Piniella said of the fifth spot to follow projected starters Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Marquis and Rich Hill. "We're looking for a long reliever in the bullpen. And basically, we're looking for versatility in our bench. Those are the three areas."
Well, there's a couple more things to consider.
"We're looking at the center-field situation," he said, after a brief pause, "and we're looking to see how Kerry [Wood] adjusts in the bullpen. And just learn the team, so I can utilize them right. Wins and losses early in the spring, I just want to see. I want to see good baseball played."
Wood, coming off a partial tear in his right rotator cuff, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday.
Aches and pains: Daryle Ward rejoined the Cubs on Wednesday. He had a severe stomach ache, and the medical staff thought he might have appendicitis. Ward will not be available for the first few games.
Pitcher Michael Wuertz has a mild strain in his right shoulder, will rest this weekend and resume throwing on Monday. Wuertz was examined Wednesday. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild said the right-handed reliever has experienced similiar discomfort in past springs.
Extra bases: Other pitchers slated to see action Thursday include Les Walrond, John Webb, Carmen Pignatiello, Ben Howard, Rocky Cherry, Randy Wells and Jason Anderson. ... Zambrano is scheduled to start Friday in the second Cactus League game. ... Fans will be able to purchase Project 3000 bracelets at HoHoKam Park for the first three home games. The bands, which have "Project 3000" and "Believe the Unseen" on them, are available for a $5 donation, and 100 percent of the proceeds go toward Project 3000, an effort to raise money for research to fight Lebers Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), which Lee's daughter, Jada, has. LCA is a rare disease that causes severe vision loss or blindness. ... Besides the new food service in the concession stands at HoHoKam Park, there is a new mural by Chicago artist John Hanley that features some Cubs greats. It's located near the main entrance.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.