BOSTON – Junior Lake snapped the bat over his leg after one of his four strikeouts on Monday night, another sign of frustration overlooked while Jake Arrieta flirted with a no-hitter and got a standing ovation at Fenway Park.
Still, Cubs manager Rick Renteria sounded surprised when a reporter mentioned the possibility of sending Lake to Triple-A Iowa to get regular at-bats, find his swing and gain some confidence.
“Really?” Renteria said before Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Red Sox. “No. It’s just a matter of us making sure we stay positive with him, share with him what we’re seeing and try to get feedback from him: What does he see? We’ll continue to give him opportunities to play.”
After the game, Renteria defended the curious decision to have Lake pinch-hit for Nate Schierholtz in the seventh inning of a tie game with runners on the corners. Lake struck out on three pitches against Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller, extending his streak to 0-for-15.
“The emphasis on a 24-year-old pinch-hitting in the big leagues,” Renteria said. “People have to understand that it’s usually reserved for guys (who) – when we were playing – were at 30 and 31 and 32 years old coming off the bench and pinch-hitting. It’s not that it can’t be done, but he’s trying to do a lot of different things and adjust his game while he’s here at the major-league level.
“You know what, I give him credit, because he doesn’t get down. He stays positive. He keeps working. Those are the things you concern yourself with when you’re going through situations like this.”
Lake is batting .228 with nine homers, 25 RBI and 87 strikeouts in 237 at-bats.
“We’ll just continue to do what we’ve been doing the whole season,” Renteria said, “picking and choosing and trying to make adjustments and help him move forward.
“Obviously, for him, I’m sure it’s not been the trek that he’s wanted. But he’s shown signs of being able to do things and then he (gets in) a little valley.
“We got to try to help him get back out of it. That’s all.”
Lake made his big-league debut after last summer’s All-Star break and shattered another bat during an April loss to Matt Garza’s Brewers. Does breaking bats raise any red flags?
“Not for me,” Renteria said.