Jerry Hairston was back in the leadoff spot Saturday following the trade of Matt Lawton to the Yankees, leaving the Cubs right back where they started.
The Cubs have used Hairston, Corey Patterson, Neifi Perez and Lawton as leadoff men in 2005 but continue to struggle in that area. Manager Dusty Baker said the Cubs will “mix and match and do what we can” to fill the position the rest of the season.
The Cubs are expected to pursue Rafael Furcal, Atlanta’s free-agent shortstop, who is 27 years old and will command a three- or four-year deal for around $8 million per season. Despite a slow start in ’05, Furcal has a .339 on-base percentage leading off, with 38 steals. He’s also fifth in the NL in fielding percentage and has great range at shortstop. Furcal’s agent is Paul Kinzer, who has a good relationship with Cubs general manager Jim Hendry.
Hendry said Saturday that the “only viable” leadoff man in the system is center fielder Felix Pie (above), who will wind up missing the final 21/2 months with Double-A West Tenn with a severe ankle injury. Pie will play winter ball in the Dominican Republic and is expected to compete for a roster spot next spring, but the Cubs can’t count on him being the leadoff man.