There aren't that many roster battles for the Cubs during spring training this year. Yesterday, we took a look at who should be the fifth starter. Today, let's examine the fifth outfielder spot.
It's certain that the first four outfielders will be Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd, Kosuke Fukudome and Tyler Colvin, barring some sort of last-minute spring training deal that would send one of the four -- likely Fukudome -- elsewhere. The best solution for having this four-man-for-three-positions problem is to make some sort of rotation; both Byrd and Soriano could use days off and Fukudome doesn't hit lefthanders, so rotating Colvin through all three OF spots -- something Lou Piniella claimed he was going to do last year but never actually did -- would work well.
But that still leaves a fifth spot, and also a slot for someone who can pinch-hit and play late-inning outfield defense. After the jump, several possibilities for this spot; you can vote for your choice in the poll.
This list (and the poll) are in alphabetical order.
James Adduci: son of a former major league player with the same name who grew up in the Chicago area (the father; the son was born in British Columbia when his dad was playing Triple-A ball there), James Adduci is a good outfielder and baserunner who doesn't hit much. He's kind of a taller Sam Fuld; he'll be 26 in May and is a longshot to make the team.
Brett Jackson: the No. 1 draft pick in 2009 is probably going to start the season at Iowa, but has been invited to major league spring training and will certainly get some playing time in early spring games. We'll likely see him in a September callup as he vies for a starting job in 2012.
Reed Johnson: the popular former Cub who made several highlight-reel catches in his two years on the team in 2008 and 2009, is back in camp as a non-roster invitee. He had a pretty bad year last year with the Dodgers, although much of it was spent as a late-inning caddy for Manny Ramirez. Despite his overall rough season in 2010, he still hit lefthanders well: .301/.324/.466 in 109 plate appearances. Lifetime, Johnson is a .312/.373/.463 hitter vs. LHP in 1136 total PA. The fact that he hits LHP well is a positive; he could be a useful platoon partner for Fukudome.
Bryan LaHair: for some reason, he is listed on the Cubs' non-roster invitee list as an outfielder; he's primarily a first baseman, though he did play some outfield at Iowa last year. Think of him as the poor man's Micah Hoffpauir.
Lou Montanez: remember this guy? He was the Cubs' No. 1 draft pick in 2000. As a shortstop. After seven undistinguished years in the Cubs system he was signed as a minor league free agent by the place old Cubs prospects go to die, Baltimore. The Orioles let him go after last season; now 29, he's probably here just to provide someone to play in split-squad games.
Fernando Perez: acquired in the Matt Garza deal, Perez is a switch-hitter who will be 28 in April, so he's no prospect. In 107 MLB plate appearances total between 2008 and 2009, he's hit a poor .234/.301/.351. He's very fast -- 223 stolen bases in 700 minor league games. And he's also responsible for this video; if you haven't seen it yet, check it out now. (He'd certainly be the funniest Cub this side of Ryan Dempster, if he makes the team.)
Brad Snyder: the career minor leaguer -- 3500 minor league PA -- had a big year at Iowa last year and got a September callup, during which he hit .185, with one big highlight -- an RBI single that drove in the only run of a 1-0 Cubs win over the Padres last September 30, a game that helped knock SD out of the playoffs. Snyder will be 29 in May and is likely headed back to Iowa.