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Monday, August 12, 2013
Cubs try Lake back in centerfield

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- The experimenting has begun for the Chicago Cubs.

Even with a healthy David DeJesus in the lineup manager Dale Sveum decided to play Junior Lake in centerfield and DeJesus in left on Monday night against the Cincinnati Reds. Previously, Lake had only played center while DeJesus was out with an injury so this marked a change in strategy.

The Cubs haven’t decided which position is best for Lake as he continues to learn how to play the outfield after being mostly a third baseman in the minors. For the record, Lake believes center is "easier" to play as does Sveum. But right now it’s only about experimentation.

“We don’t want to waste time developing something when in two years (Albert) Almora might be here playing centerfield,” Sveum said after the Cubs 2-0 loss to the Reds Monday night. “That’s up to the organization. We have to get together and talk but there is no reason to talk about it now. I want to see him (Lake) enough in centerfield before the season is over.”

That’s one of the few times during the year Sveum has looked long-term in speaking of the Cubs' rebuilding process. Almora is a first-round draft pick but only a Single-A player. Still, those talks Sveum is referring to may as well start to take place. The sooner these positions are figured out the sooner the players can master them.

And Sveum might need to use the same thinking when it comes to Double-A shortstop Javier Baez. Starlin Castro currently plays that position for the Cubs and signed a long-term deal last year. Now is definitely the time to start thinking about who will have that job when Baez is ready for the majors.

“I'm sure as we get into spring training next year you'll see him (Baez) taking ground balls at other positions just to see what it looks like,” Cubs director of scouting Jason McLeod said recently.

That could apply to several players including their top pick of 2013, Kris Bryant. Before the game on Monday, the Cubs announced he was being moved up to Single-A Daytona for the rest of the season. He plays third base -- hence one reason Lake isn’t -- as does Mike Olt, who’s at Triple-A Iowa now. The clock is ticking as some of the prospects will begin to arrive at Wrigley Field just as Lake has.

Let the experimenting begin.