Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Castro as Cubs' No. 3 hitter -- tonight?

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Starlin Castro could make the first start of his career in the marquee No. 3 spot in the Cubs' lineup for the second game of today's doubleheader.

Manager Mike Quade told Castro to be ready for the possibility if he gives struggling center fielder Marlon Byrd the night off tonight.

``I feel comfortable anywhere. It doesn't matter to me,'' Castro said. ``First, second, third, fourth - I don't care. I'm doing good with first, so maybe I'll do good with third, too.''

Castro's hot start this season - which only got hotter when he moved up to the leadoff spot last week - seemed to inspire Quade to think even bigger for the sophomore phenom.

And Byrd's 1-for-22 cold spell from the No. 3 spot - and overall 3-for-21 struggles with men in scoring position - only accelerated the thought process.

``A whole lot of things are evolving,'' Quade said. ``The more I think about it, we took the kid from 2 to 1 [successfully]. Would he be an option in the 3 hole if Marlon had a day off?''

Kosuke Fukudome, scheduled to start tonight after getting the afternoon opener off, is a.381 career hitter against tonight's San Diego starter Aaron Harang and expected to lead off.

Quade wanted to wait until seeing how the first game went before committing to a lineup for the nightcap.

``But if you give Marlon the day off and Fuke's playing and leading off, if you're me, where do you go? Fuke and [Jeff] Baker [as leadoff platoon, Darwin] Barney, Cassie - I don' t know.

``This is why I'm glad it's a split double header. At least I have an hour [after Game 1].''

Even last week when talking about long-term lineup possibilities, Castro said he wanted a shot at the No. 3 spot.

``I like it because there's a lot of RBIs. You're hitting with a lot of men in scoring position,'' said Castro, 21, who seems to rise to the level of the spotlight. ``If they give me an opportunity, it's motivation. I'll take it.

``Not everybody's hitting third in the major leagues. Every third hitter is kind of good.''

NOTE - Quade also settled on his rotation order for the weekend series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, slotting Casey Coleman in Friday's opener, with Opening Day starter Ryan Dempster going Saturday against friend and former teammate Ted Lilly.

``They'll probably go to dinner the night before. But let me tell you, when it comes to the next day, they like to compete,'' Quade said. ``That'll be fun.''

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on April 20, 2011 11:46 AM.

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