Alfonso Soriano is expected to rejoin the Chicago Cubs' lineup Monday and when he does, he'll be switched from center field back to left field, where he played last season with the Washington Nationals.
Soriano was out of the lineup Saturday for a fifth straight game after straining his left hamstring last Monday. After running in the outfield, he said he was ready to play but was advised by trainer Mark O'Neal to give the injury two more days to heal.
Manager Lou Piniella said putting Soriano in left would take some of the strain off the hamstring. Soriano, who signed an eight-year, $136 million contract in the offseason, said he was all for the move.
"We're going to put him in left field. We're going to leave him in left field, put him in left field," Piniella said Saturday before the game against the Cardinals. "It will be less running. It will be much better for him ... He's OK with that, I talked to him about it. He understands."
Soriano initially balked at being moved from second base to the outfield last year in Washington but ended up making the All-Star team and having 22 assists to go with 46 homers and 41 steals.
This time he embraced the idea of changing after just 12 games in center, although the switch is obviously not as drastic.
"I think it is the best idea just because you know I have like a little injury in my leg, so I think that makes me not run too much," Soriano said.
"I want to play no matter what position I play. I felt very comfortable that year I played in left field and I felt very comfortable playing center field in 12 games I play with the Cubs."
Soriano said he wasn't sure if the switch to left was for the remainder of the season or until his leg is completely healed. He said that was up to Piniella.
"I don't know. He told me it is better for me to move to left field just to recover my leg," Soriano said. "After that I don't know if he wants to leave me in left field or move me back to center field. So it's his option."
If the Cubs keep rookie Felix Pie, who was called up when Soriano was injured, as their center fielder, they'd have a lot of speed in their lineup. And they'd also have a logjam of outfielders with Jacque Jones, Cliff Floyd and Matt Murton all looking for playing time. And Piniella said he wants to go with 12 pitchers instead of 11.
METS FAN CHARGED: A 40-year-old man arrested at Shea Stadium on Friday night is accused of trying to distract an Atlanta Braves pitcher and shortstop with a high-powered flashlight.
Frank Martinez was charged with interference with a professional sporting event and second-degree reckless endangerment, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Saturday.
Authorities said Martinez flashed the powerful light at the players in the bottom of the eighth inning from his seat behind home plate. He was quickly ejected from the game.
"The defendant's alleged actions recklessly endangered the lives of players and spectators and caused a temporary delay to the game," Brown said.
MATSUI READY TO RETURN: New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui declared himself 100 percent healthy after going 1-for-3 with an RBI in his second rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on Saturday.
Matsui, placed on the 15-day disabled list April 8 with a strained left hamstring, is hoping to rejoin the Yankees on Monday.
"Physically, I'm fine," Matsui said through an interpreter. "I want to join the team as soon as possible and be a strength to them ... help them win."
Matsui injured the hamstring while running out a grounder on April 7, but said he had "no worries" about it now.
ALSO: The Texas Rangers designated left-hander Bruce Chen for assignment Saturday and purchased right-hander Willie Eyre's contract from Triple-A Oklahoma ... The Colorado Rockies placed reliever Ramon Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right elbow Saturday and designated pitcher Matt Herges for assignment.