DENVER -- The Chicago Cubs put rookie Junior Lake in the spotlight immediately, as he got the dubious honor of playing center field in cavernous Coors Field in his first game in the big leagues.
“He will be here, and while he is he is going to play until (David DeJesus gets back,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “That is unless he wows you too much to send him down and you have make room for him somewhere.”
Lake went 3-for-4 Friday, doubling in his first at-bat and stealing third. He singled in the sixth and eighth.
Lake switched to the outfield after coming through the Cubs system as a shortstop. He will give Sveum balance he hasn’t had since the team traded Scott Hairston to the New York Mets. On Friday Sveum was able to start a lineup with eight right-handed hitters, including starter Jeff Samardzija.
“We now have three (right-handed hitters) and you can fix the lineup a little bit that way,” the manager said. “We now can mix speed and power and from all the reports (center field) is his best position down there (at Triple-A Iowa.)”
Lake appeared relaxed before batting practice, listening to music on his iPod.
“I am not focusing on whether I am an outfielder in the future,” Lake said through teammate Julio Borbon. “I know that is what they want me to do at the moment, so I will take that role and do the best I can with it.”
Sveum expects Lake to play most of the time while he is with the big club.
“I am going to play him every day,” Sveum said.
Lake will wear Sammy Sosa's old number, 21.
“I wear this number with a lot of pride,” Lake said, showing his respect to the former home run king.