Baker thinking about being a starter, not about Castillo
By Gordon Wittenmyer firstname.lastname@example.org March 21, 2011 12:01AM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
MESA, Ariz. — Cubs infielder Jeff Baker said he didn’t pay any attention to recent media talk linking released New York Mets second baseman Luis Castillo to the Cubs.
“I pretty much stay in my own lane,” Baker said.
More important for him, that lane could be headed toward an every-day job as the Cubs’ second baseman, no matter what anybody — or his left-right splits last year — tries to say about it.
“Look at my career,” he said. “I’ve hit right-handers my whole life. There’s not one reason why I can’t hit right-handers, and I’ll continue to hit right-handers.
“Last year it was pretty drastic, and it was what it was. But I’m not concerned about it at all.”
Under Lou Piniella and Mike Quade, Baker became a platoon player last season because of the extreme difference between his production against lefties (.350 average, .550 slugging) compared with righties (.106, .121 in fewer than half the at-bats). Quade even used him as a platoon leadoff man.
But even with that in mind, Quade said of Baker this spring, “Labels are a pain in the neck to me. He’s swinging great against right-handers and left-handers down here. His at-bats have been very, very good.’’
Before last year, Baker hit .285 vs. lefties (.543 slugging) and .262 vs. righties (.411).
And Quade is open to Baker winning the second-base job outright, especially as left-handed option Blake DeWitt continues to struggle.
“That’s the goal, to play 162 games,’’ Baker said.
Matt Garza, who said his left hamstring started getting tight as he pitched off a poorly groomed mound Saturday, was back to his regular work Sunday.
He left Saturday’s game after three innings because of the mound problems.
“Everything’s fine,” Quade said. “That was probably over-the-top cautious.”
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was sent home for the second straight day because of a fever, though he had improved since Friday.
◆ Augie Ojeda is scheduled to get an epidural today for lower-back pain, and that could put him back on the field by the weekend. But barring a shocker, he has run out of time to win a roster spot.
◆ Reliever Angel Guzman, who continues to progress from career-threatening shoulder surgery a year ago, could pitch in a game for the first time since 2009 by the end of next week.