Old friends; new places

Big day in Mesa for Cubs and ex-Cubs tomorrow, with the San Diego Padres coming in for a home exhibition game. Don’t expect to see new Padre hopeful Mark Prior on the trip, but Michael Barrett said he plans to be there for the first game the teams play since he was traded last June after a rough month of baseball that included an especially rough afternoon with Big Z.

Speaking of Cubs in new places, look for Kosuke Fukudome to move to the No. 5 spot in the order against the Padres for the first time this spring, and unless he gets the day off, Alfonso Soriano will slide out of the leadoff spot, to No. 2, in what could be the significant lineup change of the season.

Piniella says it’s possible he might even toy with Soriano somewhere else in the lineup but for now wants to see what he can do in the 2 spot. And, no, he doesn’t plan to ask him to bunt.

Looks like a good move from here — especially if/when the Cubs get Brian Roberts to plug into the leadoff spot.

Is it good enough to make a difference in the NL pennant race?

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