Piniella sheds light on pinch confusion
Bluff goes awry as Cubs can't get umpire's attention
CHICAGO -- Lou Piniella had plenty of left-handed options on the bench in the Cubs' eighth inning Thursday, which is why it was a little surprising to see Koyie Hill go to the plate. But Piniella was bluffing with Hill.
The Cubs trailed, 2-0, going into the eighth against the Los Angeles Dodgers and pinch-hitter Bobby Scales led off against lefty Randy Wolf, and he homered.
The Dodgers then replaced Wolf with right-handed reliever Ramon Troncoso. Jake Fox was called on to pinch-hit for Andres Blanco, and singled. Hill was on deck to bat for pitcher Randy Wells, and kept looking back to the dugout for a signal. He didn't see anyone call him back so he stepped up to the plate. But that's not what Piniella wanted.
"Usually the umpire looks in and we give him the sign to put the batter into the ballgame," Piniella said Friday. "We couldn't get [umpire Mark Wegner's] attention, we couldn't get Hill's attention -- we tried -- and Hill got in the batter's box, and that was it. The umpire said that signified a position change."
Piniella said Hill was a "decoy" in case the Dodgers chose to bring in a lefty. Kosuke Fukudome was ready to hit against Troncoso.
"I am certainly not going to hit Hill ahead of Fukudome or [Micah] Hoffpauir with a right-hander in the ballgame," Piniella said. "First of all, the other two I've used in that category, and second of all, he's my only backup catcher. It's something that shouldn't have happened."
Hill was called back, and Fukudome batted for him and drew a walk. Alfonso Soriano then struck out, and Ryan Theriot hit into a double play to end the inning.
The Cubs also loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but Troncoso struck out Scales and Fox to end the game.
"They don't have the best record in baseball there for nothing," Scales said of the Dodgers. "We have to go about our business. It doesn't matter that there's a lot of guys on this team who didn't start the year with the team. We're up here because the Cubs think we can help this team win, and we're going to have to do the job, whoever's out there."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.