Rookie Junior Lake contributes in ways big and small
BY TONI GINNETTI Staff Reporter September 6, 2013 9:00PM
Updated: October 8, 2013 6:13AM
Junior Lake might be the best rookie few know about, but he continues to impress the Cubs with his hitting and how he has adjusted to playing the outfield.
Lake hit his first career grand slam in the first inning Friday off Kyle Lohse (9-9) in the Cubs’ 8-5 victory over the Brewers, then showed his versatility with a bunt single in his next at-bat. It helped fuel a two-run inning when pitcher Chris Rusin singled home two for his first career runs batted in.
“It feels good to get my first grand slam,’’ Lake said, but the bunt “is part of my game.
“A bunt can help the team,’’ he said. “I could have [swung for the fences again], but it’s not about me. It’s about the team.’’
Lake’s grand slam was the third by the Cubs, all at Wrigley Field, including Travis Wood’s against the White Sox on May 30 and Scott Hairston’s against the Diamondbacks the next day.
Lake, who was called up July 19, has 55 hits in his first 45 games with the Cubs. He leads all major-league rookies in hits since the All-Star break.
Kevin Gregg recorded his 30th save, reaching that mark for the third time and the first since 2010, when he had 37 saves for the Blue Jays.
Gregg didn’t join the team until April 15, when he signed a minor-league contract after being released by the Dodgers on April 3.
“It’s one of those benchmarks for a closer,’’ Gregg said. “For the way my year started, I’m excited. Being released out of spring training and not having a job the first two weeks of the season, it’s a pleasant surprise.’’
Rusin helped his cause by driving in two runs in the third, but control problems limited him to 32/3 innings. The victory went to Carlos Villanueva (5-8) in relief.
“[Rusin] had no command of his cutter. It was slipping out of his hand,’’ manager Dale Sveum said.
With 174 innings pitched in the minors and for the Cubs, Rusin passed his innings total of last season (173).
“As a pitcher, you just take the ball every five days,” Rusin said. “You don’t think about the innings you’ve had the year before, at least I don’t.’’
Right-hander Michael Bowden and outfielder Cole Gillespie cleared waivers and were assigned to Class AAA Iowa.