MESA, Ariz. _ Aramis, D-Lee, Sori, the whole crew is here. So let's get a couple of the key questions out of the way:
--Derrek Lee says it doesn't matter to him if he hits third, fourth, fifth or, gasp, even sixth. "I'll bat leadoff," Lee said this morning as position players checked in at Cubs camp.
--Speaking of leadoff, the incumbent, Alfonso Soriano, showed up in great shape and said he'll hit anywhere Lou wants him to hit. "I don't know why every year there are questions about batting lead off," he said. Soriano went on to say that if the Cubs felt he could drive in more runs batting down in the order, that's fine with him. Maybe those questions have something to do with that little 0-6 run in the playoffs the last two years.
Lee, as usual, was the voice of reason, saying that February is no time to get worked up about the lineup. Lee knows as well as anybody that Lou changes his mind on a minute-by-minute basis.
Aramis Ramirez said he's not participating in the WBC. The Dominican team already as A-Rod at third base, so A-Ram will stay here. Ramirez said he worked on his legs in the off-season and that he feels good.
Of course, the steroids questions came up. Cubs players seem to think that if the other 103 names of positive testers are revealed, that would be just fine so everyone could move on. Ramirez also had an interesting perspective.
"You can't judge everybody based on one guy," Ramirez said. "In every sport, people cheat. People try to get the edge over the other players. I don't think that's right, but everybody's got a different mentality."
About releasing the names, Ramirez said: "Whoever did it has to be worried. If you didn't do it back then, in '01, '02, '03, you don't have to worry about it. If you did it, you should be worried...Just get it out and get it over with and move on."
We had rain this morning. It's clearing up now, and we'll see how things look when players take the field. The games start Feb. 25, and one of the concerns is that the position players are going to get little time in "live" batting practice before the games because of the compressed early schedule.