The baseball season is underway! In Australia earlier this morning, the Dodgers kicked off the 2014 season with a 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks. Clayton Kershaw dominated and Scott Van Slyke provided the offense for the Dodgers (just like the script said, right?). Yasiel Puig went 0-5 with three strikeouts. The two teams will play again later tonight before coming back to the States, and then doing some exhibition stuff (including the D-Backs against the Cubs late next week) to get ready for the season again. It’s kind of weird, but at least it accelerated the start of the season.
- Patrick Mooney with a profile on Junior Lake, and the hope the Cubs have for the physical gifts to shine through. It’s been a rough Spring for Lake, although he did have a great day at the plate yesterday. You don’t put too much stock in Spring numbers, but when a guy with previously notable contact issues is striking out a ton in the Spring (and, many times, looking ugly doing it), you take note. Hopefully it’s just an adjustment process for Lake, getting back into the swing of things, and he’ll show a truer version of himself in April. Which is to say, hopefully this isn’t the true version once there’s a book out on him.
- From my perspective, it would be pretty weird to play Lake in center field every time he plays in Spring Training (except once), and then break the season with him in left field. And if he does indeed start regularly in center to start the year, the Cubs might as well really give him a long-term chance to show what he can do. There’s very little to lose – in terms of wins and losses – in 2014, because, well, you know. But there’s definitely something to be gained if it clicks for Lake, and he shows he can play above-average defense in center while posting a .280/.330/.430 line. That’s a great player right there, and it’s conceivable for Lake, even if unlikely. Again: might as well take the chance.
- All that said, one thing seems clear at this point: starting the season with Lake in the minors doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen, regardless of how the final week goes or how the rest of the outfield shakes out.
- Reiteration from the Cubs, via Mooney, that there is no serious worry about Javier Baez’s heel bruise. He’ll get checked out again today, and could wind up playing today.
- So, Chris Rusin or Carlos Villanueva in the rotation to start the year? That remains the question.
- In case you missed it yesterday amid the Baez injury flurry, there’s a chance Starlin Castro could play in a minor league game today.
- Parade Magazine with 11 did-you-knows about Wrigley Field.
- Cubs minor league pitcher Ryan Searle pitched quite well against the Dodgers in an exhibition game (Searle is Australian).