Rick Renteria discussed his lineups prior to Tuesday’s game. And while the Cubs will use the platoon advantage, several of the right handed hitters that are only facing left handed pitchers right now, will face right handed pitchers as the season progresses.
Carrie Muskat reported Renteria “at some point will likely abandon the platoon” but “it depends on the player.” Renteria’s lineups have been one of the storylines over the first seven games because many have questioned why players like Mike Olt and Junior Lake have not received more playing time.
Renteria said Tuesday, “Performance is key. You might have someone say, Well I can’t perform unless I have four, five regular at bats every single day. The reality is every time you get an opportunity to hit, that’s an opportunity. How good the at-bat is, how the approach is. You don’t have to get a hit to have a good approach. It could be a productive at-bat without getting a hit. You talk all those factors into play and hopefully make the right decision.”
For now, the Cubs will continue to mix and match at third base, in the outfield and at second base. Against lefties, look for Junior Lake, Mike Olt, Darwin Barney and Justin Ruggiano in the starting lineup. When a right hander is on the hill, Luis Valbuena, Ryan Kalish, Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz should be in the starting lineup. And it appears Emilio Bonifacio will play second and centerfield and be part of the everyday lineup along with Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Welington Castillo.
Starlin Castro had one of his best games in two-plus years on Tuesday night. Castro made plays in the field and even covered third on a broken play in the second inning. Castro notched the first multi-homer game of his career and looked extremely confident at the plate.
Jordon Bernfield caught up with Starlin Castro following Tuesday’s game. Castro told Bernfield that “above all he wants to be in a spot in the lineup where he can hit with RISP and drive in runs.” Castro said hitting sixth in the lineup was “okay with him.” Castro explained to Bernfield that the approach he took at the plate during his first at bat, which resulted in a single to right on a 3-2 pitch, is the approach he uses when he’s going good. Castro does not go to the plate looking for a walk and admitted to Bernfield he has the “ability to put the ball in play, no matter what the count is” and that is what he is looking to do.
Castro told Jesse Rogers, “I got my feeling back.”
Whatever the case, it was good to see Starlin Castro play baseball again on Tuesday night … it’s been a long time. And apparently the extra work Castro put in prior to Tuesday’s game, along with Welington Castillo and John Baker, paid off.
Christopher Kamka pointed out, Starlin Castro became the 66th player with 700-plus hits in a Cubs’ uniform on Tuesday … and he is only 24 years old.
Theo Epstein addressed Javier Baez’s ejection from Saturday night’s game briefly with the beat writers prior to Tuesday’s game. Epstein and the Cubs are viewing the incidents “as learning experiences.” Epstein liked the way Javier Baez responded with a home run the following day. Baez spent extra time Saturday night, after being ejected from the game, working in the cage. Baez has not gotten off to a good start this season and he is reportedly frustrated.
After Baez was ejected from the game, his teammates told him that his behavior was unacceptable. Baez and Eli Whiteside got into an argument in the dugout. Epstein told ESPN Chicago, “It was a great development experience for him. His teammates called him out on it and he responded the right way and then took it to heart. He came back and pinch hit the next day and hit a home run.”
Duane Underwood told the CCO on Tuesday night that he is being added to the Kane County roster. Underwood is in Chicago and will soon suit up for the Cougars.
The Cougars have not announced the roster move or which player Underwood will replace on the active roster.
Theo Epstein addressed Jorge Soler’s status Tuesday. Epstein said the team needs to make sure Jorge Soler is 100 percent before he gets back on the field. Soler did not pull his hamstring again, “but it obviously has not healed the right way.” The Cubs know Soler needs at bats and he has to get back on the field but they are not going to rush him.