Cubs notes: Sveum likes Lake hitting first or second

Cubs notes: Sveum likes Lake hitting first or second
August 3, 2013, 8:00 pm
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Alex Ruppenthal

Junior Lake had his second four-hit game yesterday in just 16 big-league games, the first player to do that since the Cardinals’ Bo Hart in 2003. 

Lake has been hitting first or second in the lineup, and the Cubs could move him down to a spot where he’d have more chances to drive in runs. But Cubs manager Dale Sveum seems to want to give Lake as many at-bats as possible.

"I think at the top of the order the way he's obviously getting on [base],” said Sveum, who has Lake leading off Saturday. “He can bunt. He can hit you a home run early in the game. Right now for his own development in the big leagues I think it's best to keep him one or two right now."

[MORE: Sveum pleased with Lake's start with both bat and glove]

Sveum hopes Castro’s struggles pay off later

After two All-Star seasons, Starlin Castro has taken a step backward..

His .637 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) is more than 100 points lower than either of his past two seasons. He continues to have defensive lapses, with 15 errors, second-most among shortstops.

But Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Castro’s struggles should help him down the road.

"You hit rock bottom as a hitter, [learn] to make adjustments, to understand what this game's all about, how you have to make adjustments to the pitcher because they're making them to you,” Sveum said. “It all comes in handy. You don't like it to happen. You want everybody to be consistent month after month, but we know that's not a reality in this game."

Sveum was asked whether Castro has improved at separating his offense and defense -– not letting his performance on one side affect the other.

"I think he still has to work on it,” Sveum said. “… You never know what's going on in anybody's mind when they're on defense or at the plate. It's just a combination, the more experience you get and the more things you go through, you want to see those mistakes limited."

Valbuena headed to DL with oblique strain

Third baseman Luis Valbuena was not available Saturday and will be placed on the disabled list with a right oblique strain. A corresponding move to replace him will be made tomorrow.

Valbuena’s absence likely forced Cubs manager Dale Sveum to let Jeff Samardzija hit for himself with the Cubs down by three in the sixth inning. Samardzija was replaced on the mound before the seventh.

[More: Samardzija has control issues in loss]

Briefly

-- Rookie Junior Lake went 1 for 4 with a single and two strikeouts.
-- The Cubs were shut out for the seventh time this season.
-- L.A. set a franchise record with 13 straight road wins, joining the 1976 Phillies as the only NL teams in the past 56 years to win 13 straight away from home.
-- Dodgers' rookie phenom Yasiel Puig had two hits but injured his wrist making a diving catch in right field. The team said he has a hand contusion and is day-to-day.
-- Chris Capuano pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings and got the win for L.A.