Junior Lake puts on offensive, defensive show at Wrigley

Junior Lake puts on offensive, defensive show at Wrigley
August 2, 2013, 12:00 am
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Vinnie Duber

When a guy named Junior runs into a brick wall at the century-old Wrigley Field, well that’s just poetry in motion.

Junior Lake is new to patrolling left field at Wrigley Field, but he made a spectacular catch in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the Dodgers that surely left him bruised.

With one out in the top of the ninth inning, the man with the name representing youth tracked down a fly ball lifted off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez, and he caught it, albeit while crashing his right leg into the brick wall that separates the seats from the field.

And this was after he hit two home runs.

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Lake is making a name for himself, impressing teammates, coaches and fans alike with his style of play, one where he’s obviously not afraid to sacrifice his body.

“You like anybody making catches like that and throwing your body out there for your teammates knowing you possibly could get hurt,” manager Dale Sveum said. “That’s the athleticism, and that’s what you need on the field.”

Lake’s two homers earlier in the game were the latest exclamation point in the 23-year-old’s hot start to his major league career. In 15 big league games, Lake is batting .323 with four homers and seven RBIs.

So don’t blame Sveum if he’s not quick to offer up adjustments.

“I’m not saying anything to him,” Sveum said. “The guy’s hitting (almost) .330 with four homers in his first two weeks in the big leagues. I’m not saying anything to a guy that’s doing that.”

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And Lake’s impressed teammates, too. Anthony Rizzo, who also hit two home runs Thursday, had a glowing review for Lake.

“It’s nice to see what he’s doing,” Rizzo said. “He’s a good kid, he works hard. He’s quiet, he just does his business and it’s nice to see that.”

But what about that catch?

“I feel a little bit hurt, but nothing bad happened. I’m good now,” Lake said.

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According to the outfielder, that style of play is nothing new.

“He knows he’s always played like that,” said catcher Dioner Navarro, translating for Lake. “His natural instinct is just to go hard every time. He doesn’t want to hit the wall, but if he has to he will do it.”

So, with the young man being new to the old park, did he know that was brick under that padding?

“Now I know,” Lake said with a laugh.