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Prospect Lake could play way into long-term role

DENVER -- With his first big league game under his belt, Junior Lake has already shown enough potential to at least warrant discussion of becoming an everyday piece of the Cubs' lineup.

Though Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday that the Cubs' ninth-ranked prospect is expected to be a temporary fill-in for injured center fielder David DeJesus, if he can string together more games like his 3-for-4 debut -- which included a double, two singles and a stolen base -- Lake could turn into a more permanent fixture.

Asked what Lake would need to do to secure a long-term spot with the club, Sveum referenced the remainder of the Cubs' series in Colorado against right-handers Juan Nicasio and Tyler Chatwood.

"He's going to get a chance to face three lefties in Arizona [starting Monday]," Sveum said. "But I think the tell-tale will be how he handles the Major League right-handed pitchers, sliders and all that. There's got to be a point if a guy's doing well, that's just the way it is, you keep him and you find somewhere to play him."

Athletic, speedy and young, Lake is an infielder by trade, but versatile enough to man the outfield, where he started the first two games at Coors Field in center. If he keeps producing for a team badly in need of an offensive spark, Sveum will find a way to work him into the lineup.

"If it's one position or it's third base and shortstop and right field, left field, give [Alfonso Soriano] the day off," Sveum said. "There's all kinds of options there -- because he's such a good athlete -- to get his ability in the lineup.

Ian McCue is an associate reporter for
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