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Cubs’ Starlin Castro takes No. 3 spot

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

It took just 18 games this season — just 143 games into a burgeoning big-league career — for Starlin Castro to get his first taste of a marquee spot in the Cubs’ lineup he’s expected to someday take over for good.

And even before he made his debut there in Wednesday’s doubleheader nightcap, the confident young shortstop had his eye on that No. 3 spot in the order.

“I like it because there’s a lot of RBIs. You’re hitting with a lot of men in scoring position,’’ said Castro, 21, who already has seemed to rise to the level of the spotlight in less than a season in the big leagues. “If they give me an opportunity, it’s motivation. I’ll take it.

“Not everybody’s hitting third in the major leagues,’’ he added. “Every third hitter is kind of good.’’

Castro, who singled in the fourth and was robbed by Cameron Maybin of a two-run, extra-base hit to the right-field gap in the fifth, got his chance Wednesday because manager Mike Quade wanted to give struggling Marlon Byrd a one-game breather while also getting Kosuke Fukudome back in the leadoff spot for a game.

It’s expected to be nothing short of a sign of things to come — perhaps soon.

“A whole lot of things are evolving,’’ Quade said. “The more I think about it, we took the kid from 2 to 1 [successfully]. Would he be an option in the 3 hole if Marlon had a day off? … If you give Marlon the day off and Fuke’s playing and leading off, if you’re me, where do you go?’’

Despite Byrd’s 2-for-28 cold spell, and 4-for-22 struggles with men in scoring position, Quade isn’t looking at this as a long-term move for Castro at this point.

But he stresses the evolutionary nature of his lineup.

“I don’t see anything being set,’’ the manager said. “The 1, 2 and 3 holes can be a musical chairs, given who I have in the lineup that particular day,’’ he said.

That’s fine with Castro, who has hit .463 in nine games at leadoff.

“I feel comfortable anywhere. It doesn’t matter to me,’’ he said. “First, second, third, fourth — I don’t care.’’


Quade said he’ll keep his rotation in order for the weekend series against the Dodgers, and won’t use today’s day off to switch anybody. That means Casey Coleman (1-0, 4.22) starts Friday’s series opener and Ryan Dempster (1-2, 6.84) goes Saturday against friend and former Cub Ted Lilly.

Reed Johnson’s attempt to steal second base in the third inning of the nightcap was just the Cubs’ fifth attempt at a stolen base this season — with Johnson, Darwin Barney and Byrd all getting thrown out in lone attempts. Castro is 2-for-2.

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