(Eds: Updates.) After losing two of their top three run producers from last season, the Chicago Cubs might open 2012 with outfielder Alfonso Soriano as their cleanup hitter.
Spring training games don't start until Sunday, and new manager Dale Sveum said his lineup is still very much a work in progress. But his early thoughts include newly acquired outfielder David DeJesus leading off and either first baseman Bryan LaHair or Soriano batting fourth.
Soriano is ''the most prolific guy in our lineup that's done it before,'' Sveum said. ''He's a big part of this lineup that's got to produce.''
The team lost third baseman Aramis Ramirez (26 home runs, 93 RBIs) and first baseman Carlos Pena (28 and 80) from last year's team.
''Wow,'' Soriano said when told of Sveum's comments. ''I'm ready for anything. If he puts me in the lineup in fourth, it's the same to me as hitting seventh. I just want to stay healthy and do my job.''
Soriano originally signed his eight-year, $136 million contra...