For the second game in a row, Reed Johnson got the start in right field over Tyler Colvin on Thursday. Johnson had four hits on Wednesday night against the Washington Nationals, including a double and a home run.
"We're gonna try him again today and see how he's doing," manager Mike Quade said before the game of Johnson, who has battled back problems all season. "He's feeling really good, knock on wood, so I thought we'd stay with him today."
While Johnson has definitely earned his playing time, many have begun to question when Colvin will get an extended opportunity to prove if he can be an everyday outfielder in the big leagues. But when asked if there would be a point where he would just insert Colvin into the starting lineup and keep him there, Quade didn't hesitate.
"No," Quade said. "He's going to have to earn that."
Colvin entered the game in the eighth inning.
It seems like the logical move to play the lineup that gives a team the best chance to win, and at the moment Johnson is definitely an upgrade over Colvin. However, this strategy also seems to be in direct conflict with general manager Jim Hendry's stated goal when he moved Kosuke Fukudome to Cleveland and opened a spot in right field.
"We need to find out whether (Colvin's) an everyday guy or not by the end of this year," Hendry said after moving Fukudome. "No matter how you slice it, the outfield situation, just like a few other (positions) will have to be addressed in the offseason."
Since being called up on July 28th, Colvin has started eight of the Cubs' 14 games, hardly the extended opportunity to play many were expecting. Colvin hasn't helped the situation, collecting only three hits in his 28 at-bats. Granted, two of those hits are home runs, but he's still striking out too much (eight times) and not walking enough (only one unintentional walk since being recalled).
With the Cubs sitting in fifth place and 16 games under .500, it's clear that looking towards the future should be the team's number one focus. Regardless of what one believes his true potential to be, Colvin's name should be in the lineup card until he proves to Quade and Hendry that he doesn't have a place on this team.