Junior Lake makes bang-up debut for Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 20, 2013 1:32AM
Updated: August 21, 2013 6:18AM
DENVER — On a day Matt Garza owned the Cubs’ headlines and Jeff Samardzija owned the Colorado Rockies, the major-league debut of Junior Lake might have been the most important on-the-field event for the Cubs so far this season.
“Since I’ve been here, that’s our first kid that’s come up and really looked like a major-leaguer,” second-year manager Dale Sveum said, “and was aggressive, aggressive on the bases. He did a great job.”
In the most impressive debut for a Cubs rookie since Starlin Castro more than three years ago, Lake doubled inside the bag at third on the first pitch he saw, stole third on the next pitch and added two singles in a 3-for-4 night that included his regular-season professional debut in center field as the Cubs defeated the Rockies 3-1 on Friday.
Even when he got hung up between third and home on a contact-play grounder to the mound, “he pulled that off, too,” Sveum said of the ensuing rundown that stayed alive long enough for hitter Dave Sappelt to reach second.
If he keeps it up, his planned week in the bigs might get an extension even when David DeJesus (shoulder) returns from the DL.
“We’ve seen it before where a guy wows you too much to send him back, and then you have to make room for him,” Sveum said.
“Those are the kind of players you talk about, the athletes, and hopefully they hit. The guys who can score from first base, steal bases, be energetic all the time and bring life to the team sometimes. You see it in other places, and that’s the kind of guy we’re hoping we get out of him, because he’s got that kind of body and speed and power and athleticism.”
“I’m excited. It’s my dream come true,” said Lake, 23, of the surprise call-up.
The kid with six Class AAA games of outfield experience — all in right — said he’s willing to play anywhere and do whatever he’s told.
Shake and bake
Scott Baker, who is 15 months into a comeback from Tommy John surgery, had another rough outing in his second rehab start for Class A Kane County on Friday, giving up six runs on six hits and three walks (one strikeout) in 22/3 innings.
He told reporters in Geneva, Ill., that it’s a matter of mechanics and execution. Cubs officials believe he doesn’t yet trust the repaired elbow enough to snap off pitches at full force.
It could be at least a little longer process than originally thought, but Baker is expected to continue the rehab assignment as scheduled.
Alfonso Soriano’s 10th home run in 17 games, leading off the fourth inning, gave him 389 career homers, tying Johnny Bench for 57th on the all-time list.
◆ Dale Sveum said he likes Pearl Jam (which played Wrigley Field on Friday night), but that “It’s a little soft for my taste. Not as heavy metal as I like. Not usually on my No. 1 play list. Don’t tell Eddie Vedder I said that.”