For 1 thing, don’t look for Castro at leadoff
By Gordon Wittenmyer firstname.lastname@example.org
MESA, Ariz. — Leadoff hitter? The Cubs don’t need no stinking leadoff hitter.
That figures to be the battle cry for another year as new manager Mike Quade stares at the same, old hole on the roster and likely goes with the mix-and-match system at leadoff — even with promising young shortstop Starlin Castro showing glimpses as a rookie of possibly developing into that kind of player.
‘‘I would prefer not to [use Castro at leadoff],’’ said Quade, who plans to keep Castro at No. 2 in the order after a .300 rookie season that included a .347 on-base percentage. ‘‘Because he’s young. Some of the demands of a really good leadoff hitter that I’d like to think down the road [he’ll develop] — pitch selection and some of the things that he still has a ways to go on — would be huge.
‘‘I’d like to think that he’s going to be talented enough to possibly be that guy some day. But for right now, it’ll be something that we consider, but I’d just as soon leave him there.’’
And Quade has one more — refreshingly candid — reason for not pushing the leadoff spot on the kid just yet:
‘‘I hope he proves me wrong, but I am leery about the second-year thing, too,’’ he said of the so-called ‘‘sophomore jinx’’ that whacked catcher Geovany Soto in 2009 and pitcher Randy Wells last year.
‘‘And if we want this guy to play well and especially to get off to a decent start, with all the adjustments that are going to be made by other clubs on him, then we would at least like to leave him somewhere [No. 2 spot] where we believe he’s comfortable.
‘‘But I reserve my right to change my mind. And maybe Starlin makes all those adjustments and he makes the choice, and I don’t. That’s even better.’’
Even with lefty slugger Carlos Pena added to the lineup, Quade said he plans to stick with Aramis Ramirez as his cleanup hitter — a decision that, with Pena presumably No. 5, could make the calls on 6, 7 and 8 intriguing, between the talent, lineup-balance and contract factors involved.
† Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza each are scheduled to pitch the Cubs’ Cactus League opener Sunday, in that order, with closer Carlos Marmol also scheduled for an inning.
† The Cubs’ second game Monday features starting candidates Wells and Andrew Cashner along with setup men Kerry Wood and Sean Marshall.