The curse of the Cubs center fielder has claimed Brian Bogusevic’s hamstring, which had been been giving him trouble on and off for the better part of a couple weeks. It looks like he’s going to have to head to the disabled list now, but his pain is Junior Lake’s gain.
The enigmatic – and that’s not just a cliche in this instance – Cubs prospect is expected to be called up to take Bogusevic’s place on the 25-man roster, and will probably play a bit in the corner outfield spots and a bit at third base, as he has been at AAA Iowa. Slowed by a broken rib early, Lake has hit .295/.341/.462 so far in his AAA debut (40 games). Helping his call-up cause is the MASH unit in the outfield for the Cubs (which includes Brett Jackson), the trade of Scott Hairston, and the fact that Lake has already been on the 40-man roster for a couple seasons now (as in, he’s already using his second option year). When you look at the 40-man, if it wasn’t going to be Matt Szczur, and if it wasn’t going to be a new addition to the 40-man, Lake was pretty much it.
Lake is 23, and, although he’s not necessarily viewed as a long-term starter at any position, he can reasonably be viewed as a long-term piece for the Cubs if he can play passably at a wide variety of positions. His bat is good enough for that role (and could be even better with some consistency), and I have a feeling that fans are going to like the athleticism they see.
As for Bogusevic, he last played on July 14 – to which this DL stint can be backdated – and will be eligible to come off of the disabled list on July 29. At that time, the Cubs’ roster could look very different than it does today, and Bogusevic could be needed once again. That roster turnover could also lead to Lake staying up with the big club for the rest of the year, even if he presently looks like a mere injury fill-in. Then again, that’s right around the time that David DeJesus could come off of the DL as well. Lake can be freely optioned up and down from Iowa, so we’ll have to see what happens.
Either way, it will be exciting to see him in the lineup. It’s hard to say whether he’ll get regular work over the next couple of weeks, or if the call-up is as much about giving him a taste of the bigs and the big league coaching staff as it is about ensuring he plays every day (which could be tough to pull off with Soriano-Schierholtz-Valbuena pretty much locking down the corner outfield spots and third base against righties). Julio Borbon figures to become a mainstay in center field for now.