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Starlin Castro bats leadoff for Cubs against Nationals

StarlCastro doubled right field lead off game Friday Washington. | Paul Beaty~AP

Starlin Castro doubled to right field to lead off the game Friday at Washington. | Paul Beaty~AP

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WASHINGTON — Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he picked Starlin Castro as his leadoff hitter Friday by “process of elimination.”

The same process might help Jeff Samardzija in his effort to get his first victory since Opening Day.

Samardzija, who has fought command issues since pitching through a cut on his index finger two weeks ago, faces a Washington Nationals lineup that is without $126 million outfielder Jayson Werth (hamstring) and second-year phenom Bryce Harper (ingrown toenail) because of injuries.

Werth is expected to be put on the disabled list after the game. Harper is expected back Saturday.

Meanwhile, Castro was the center of pregame attention after Sveum put him at the top of the order for the first time since his lone game in the leadoff spot last year, Aug. 4 at Los Angeles.

The Cubs faced a left-hander, Ross Detwiler, on Friday for the first time since platoon leadoff man Dave Sappelt was optioned to Class AAA Iowa this week.

“It’s the way the lineup’s going to be now against lefties,’’ Sveum said, adding that outfielder Julio Borbon might get a few appearances there, too, against left-handers.

Castro is a career .319 hitter in 74 previous starts in the leadoff spot, with a .362 on-base percentage — his best numbers for any of his four most common spots in the order.

“He’s one of those hitters,” Sveum said. “He’s going to be the same hitter no matter where he’s hitting in the lineup.”

Cubs leadoff men rank 10th in the National League with a .325 OBP and ninth with 21 runs scored.



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