In my mind, the whole crosstown rivalry, BP Cup, whatever else piece of tonight’s game just took a HUGE backseat to the lineup (and it had already taken a backseat to Ryan Dempster hitting the DL).

Bryan LaHair is starting in right field, and David DeJesus is playing center field.

The implications of that long-awaited move are many, but here’s the biggest one: the Cubs are telling the rest of the baseball world that they are fully prepared to play LaHair in right field when Anthony Rizzo is ready to be called up. Why are they telling the baseball world this? Because if they don’t, teams can continue to call the Cubs’ bluff in trade talks about Alfonso Soriano. Until the Cubs found a non-first-base spot for LaHair, they were in a real bind with when they could call up Rizzo – namely, they had to move Soriano before they could call up Rizzo (so that LaHair could play in left field). In other words, if you’re the Orioles, and the Cubs are trying to sell you on Soriano, it was very easy to respond: “Yeah, but in a couple weeks, when you call up Rizzo, you’re going to have to figure out what to do with Soriano anyway. We’ll take our chances that your price goes way down.” The Cubs have thrown down the glove and said, “You don’t want to take on any of Soriano’s salary? Fine. We’ll keep him. See, we can work this just fine.”

And you know how I know all of this is true? Tony Campana is starting in left field. If this wasn’t about showing the world that LaHair can play right (and, instead, was just about getting him into the outfield), Campana would have been in his usual center, DeJesus in his usual right, and LaHair in left. I’m not being dramatic here, people: this is a clear, aggressive statement by the Cubs that they can go Soriano-DeJesus-LaHair in the outfield if they have to. (And, to be clear, the Cubs probably also want to get some game looks at LaHair in the outfield in advance of actually calling up Rizzo.)

Whew. Busy, busy afternoon.

Playing LaHair in right field also allows the Cubs to demonstrate a couple other things, namely that (hopefully) LaHair can handle right field, and that (hopefully) DeJesus can handle center field. Should the Cubs look to deal those two in July, increasing their perceived versatility can’t hurt.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (22-44) at Chicago White Sox (35-31), 7:10pm CT on WCIU.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Matt Garza (2-5, 4.04 ERA, 3.50 xFIP)

versus

Zach Stewart (1-1, 5.18 ERA, 3.95 xFIP)

Chicago White Sox Lineup

1. Alejandro De Aza, CF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Adam Dunn, DH

4. Paul Konerko, 1B

5. Alex Rios, RF

6. A.J. Pierzynski, C

7. Dayan Viciedo, LF

8. Alexei Ramirez, SS

9. Orlando Hudson, C

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Bryan LaHair, RF(!!!)

4. Alfonso Soriano, DH

5. Steve Clevenger, 1B

6. Darwin Barney, 2B

7. Luis Valbuena, 3B

8. Geovany Soto, C

9. Tony Campana, LF


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