Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Lake frustrated by lack of playing time
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- Count Chicago Cubs' outfielder Junior Lake as another interested party in his lack of playing time. Lake and fellow righty Mike Olt haven't started against a right-handed pitcher over the first seven games of the season and Lake sounds frustrated.
"I want to play every day," Lake said before the Cubs played the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. "I want to be in the lineup every day. I don't have control over that. ...He [manager Rick Renteria] knows I want to play more. Maybe not every day, but I want to play more."
Junior Lake says he wants "to play every day" but so far has faced only left-handed pitching in the early part of the season for the Cubs.
Lake burst onto the scene midseason last year impressing observers with his combination of speed and power. He hit .377 against left-handers and .251 against righties but that was in only 236 total at-bats. Lake says he thinks he can do better.
"I don't see the difference, righty or lefty," he said. "It doesn't matter. If it's a righty (I don't care)."
But right now the Cubs do. Or at least Renteria does. He wants to see more, though he vows that right-handed hitters will see right-handed pitching at some point. He just didn't say when.
"As the season progresses and I start to see them a little bit more," Renteria said. "A lot of those things (pinch hits, etc.) are giving me a lot of information and feedback, leading me to where we ultimately might go."
That's vague but it will have to do for now. Lake knows if he's in a straight platoon he won't play much since there are many more righty starters than lefties.
"If you play every day you see a lot of pitches every day," Lake said. "If you see one pitch here, one pitch tomorrow you don't make the adjustments."
Lake is 5-for-17 over the first week of the season with two walks after having a strong finish to the spring that included a three-homer game. But he says he feels as if he's pressing because he's facing only lefties. He also knows there's nothing he can do about it.
"I don't control the lineup," he said.
During spring training, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Lake would see "a lot of at-bats" and that still might be the case, but he backed off of that last week before the Cubs' home opener.
"A big part of why they've sat is the right-handers we've faced are two power, sinker-ball guys that do much better against righties than lefties," Hoyer said. "I think that's a big part of it. We'll pick our spots with those guys. We've given Ricky a team with a lot of versatility but that presents its own challenges for him. He has to keep everyone happy, keep everyone playing. Performance will ultimately determine who plays a lot."