Lake makes Major League debut for Cubs
DENVER -- Junior Lake wore a child-like smile in the clubhouse before Friday night's game, his excitement like that of a kid prepping for his first Little League game.
Lake, an outfielder/third baseman rated the Cubs' No. 9 prospect by MLB.com, made his big league debut Friday in the series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field, tallying a double in his first at-bat from the sixth spot in the lineup. Lake manned center field, a spot he said he was comfortable in despite starting most games with Triple-A Iowa at third base.
Lake's big league stay is seen as a temporary fix for injured outfielder David DeJesus, who has been out since June 14 with a right shoulder sprain.
"It's just a matter of what the situation or game is asking me to do at the time," Lake, 23, said through a translator before Friday's game. "It's not really focusing on if I'm going to be an outfielder here in the future or not; I know that's what I'm being called upon to do at the moment. I'm just going to take that role and do the best I can with it."
In his first year at the Triple-A level, Lake was hitting .295 with 46 hits -- 16 for extra bases -- four homers and 18 RBIs. He also showed plenty of speed, with 14 stolen bases in 40 games.
Lake was looking forward to playing alongside his friend and former teammate on the 2007 Dominican League team, Starlin Castro. The Cubs' everyday shortstop and Lake shared the infield on that team, with Lake at third base.
"It makes me happy, makes me comfortable," Lake said. "I've played with him before, and it doesn't really matter the position that I'm playing, as long as I get to play here at this level with him. It's something that I definitely cherish and will enjoy."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he expected Lake to be an everyday player until DeJesus returns, hoping he could help inject life into a scuffling offense.
"Obviously he was hurt at the beginning with the broken rib and everything," Sveum said. "But he came back and he was hot right away, and, like I said, watching him from all the reports that he's making a change; he's getting more patient at the plate.
"Obviously this comes with development; that's why you play [Class] A ball, Double-A, Triple-A, and then hopefully you're ready for the big leagues with those kinds of tools."