Brent Lillibridge will lead off and play left field in place of Juan Pierre Saturday, among other changes.
That Lillibridge will play in place of Pierre is a great start. Alexei Ramirez will move to No. 5 in the order, giving Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko some much-needed protection that A.J. Pierzynski and his career-low .671 OPS were unable to provide. Brent Morel will hit second in place of Ramirez and Ramon Castro will start and bat No. 7.
The only questionable move here is batting Morel second. Most of his [relative] success this season has actually come against right-handers, against whom the rookie is hitting .277/.283/.313. Morel owns a .188/.220/.250 line against lefties, hardly fit to bat in a spot as important as No. 2. Although the Sox don't have much in the way of other options, as Gordon Beckham holds a .510 OPS against lefties. Alex Rios actually would be the best No. 2 hitter to replace Ramirez in terms of OPS, but he only holds a .627 OPS against lefties this season.
Don't be surprised if Ramirez stays at No. 5 beyond tonight with Pierzynski moving up to No. 2. While the thought of Pierzynski hitting second is a little unnerving, if he has to hit somewhere high in the order (he doesn't), I'd rather have it be No. 2 than No. 5. What I'd really like to see is Pierzynski moved to No. 7 when the White Sox return home next week, with Adam Dunn being moved up to No. 5 and Ramirez back to No. 2.
Castro will only play tonight because Diamondbacks starter Zach Duke throws with his left hand. And Lillibridge will likely only play in place of Pierre tonight before being relegated back to the bench for Sunday's game.
Lillibridge can take a detour from that relegation track with a good game Saturday, though. If he does play well, he could shift to center in place of Rios for Sunday's game. But here's why Lillibridge won't have a chance to take over for Pierre, no matter how detrimental Pierre is and will be to the team:
‘‘If people don’t like Juan, well, that’s too bad,’’ Guillen said Friday. “As long as he’s here, I have to play him. He’s my leadoff guy, and he can make a lot of things happen. We know he’s struggling right now.’’ --Chicago Sun-Times
Guillen basically admits he realizes how bad Pierre has been but doesn't care. He doesn't have to play Pierre when there's 1) a better left fielder already on the team and 2) a better outfielder playing with Triple-A in Dayan Viciedo. Saying he has to play Pierre is a facile argument.
Also, Guillen never specifically referred to what "things" Pierre can make happen. "Things" could refer to Pierre's nine caught stealings, after all.
But even if Saturday's Sox lineup breaks the team out of its offensive doldrums, expect to see Pierre right back in the lineup Sunday.