Cubs’ Junior Lake out with stress fracture in ribContinue reading.
Lake Superior: Junior earns longer stay with Cubs
PHOENIX – Maybe that Cub farm system that’s been ripped since the new guys took over a year and a half ago wasn’t quite as barren as some people think.
Not if Junior Lake’s first four days in the major leagues is any indication.
“Go ask Lake if he’s going to be traded,” Alfonso Soriano said with a big smile, when he rounded the corner into the clubhouse and noticed a crowd of media after the Cubs beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 behind another huge day from Lake.
Lake, the athletic, power-speed prospect called up Friday, delivered the biggest game yet of his eye-popping four-game debut – almost single-handedly beating the D-backs with a full-gamut of hitting skills.
Batting in the leadoff spot for the first time, he bunted for a hit in the third inning, hit a monster home run into the low-porch upper deck in center field for two runs, bunted for another hit in the seventh and then lined a run-scoring hit to left for a big run in the ninth.
“The last hit was the biggest hit since he’s been here,” manager Dale Sveum said, “to add on like that against a guy he’s never seen [right-hander Will Harris] and hit a breaking ball.”
Biggest hit? That’s saying something considering he’s already got nine of them in four games, including a three-hit debut Friday. And one of them was one of the longest home runs by a Cub this year – earning him a cold shoulder from teammates for a moment when he got back to the dugout.
“It was so quiet,” he said, laughing when asked about the scene.
The nine hits are the most in the first four games for a Cub since Andy Pafko in 1943, Monday’s effort was the first four-hit game this early in major-league career for a Cub since Steve Lake in 1983.
He’s 9-for-17 with the homer, a double, a walk and the three RBIs. He also has a steal of third base – though he’s been caught stealing second twice, including Monday.
“Obviously, this guy’s one of our better athletes in the minor leagues and to come up and something that’s never been done in 70 years here, that’s pretty impressive,” Sveum said.
As for that plan that Lake would only be around until David DeJesus (shoulder) returns from the DL this week?
Never mind. He’ll be sticking around.
“Right now I’d be pretty stupid to say no,” said Sveum, who plans to leave him in the leadoff spot again Tuesday, and plans to leave him in center – where he’d never played professionally in the regular season until Friday – indefinitely.
“He might have found his niche right now,” Sveum said. “He’s going to have to play himself out of it. And obviously that ain’t happening.”
Lake, 23, was asked if he felt he’d won a job after his torrid four days, and through the help of translating coach Franklin Font, downplayed the idea.
“He wants to keep working hard and make the decision hard for the front office,” Font said after Lake answered in Spanish.
“He’s just playing out of this world right now. It’s amazing,” said pitcher Chris Rusin – a former minor-league teammate of Lake who also has earned a longer stay after pitching well in a short-notice spot start for the traded Matt Garza. “It’s fun to watch.”