WASHINGTON - Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he picked Starlin Castro as his leadoff hitter Friday by "process of elimination."
The same process might help Jeff Samardzija in his effort to get his first win since Opening Day.
Samardzija, who's fought come command issues since pitching through a cut on his index finger two weeks ago, faces a Washington Nationals lineup on Friday that is without $126-million outfielder Jayson Werth (hamstring) and second-year phenom Bryce Harper (ingrown toenail) because of injuries.
Werth is expected to be placed on the disabled list after the game. Harper is expected back in the lineup Saturday.
Meanwhile, Castro was the center of pregame attention when Sveum put him at the top of the order for the first time since his lone game in the leadoff spot last year, Aug. 4 in Los Angeles.
The Cubs faced a left-handed starter (Ross Detwiler) on Friday for the first time since platoon leadoff man Dave Sappelt was optioned to AAA Iowa early in the week.
"It's the way the lineup's going to be now against lefties,'' Sveum said, adding outfielder Julio Borbon might get a few appearances there, too, against left-handers.
Castro's a .319 career hitting in 74 previous starts in the leadoff spot, with a .362 on-base percentage - his best numbers for any of his four most common spots in the order.
"He's one of those hitters," Sveum said. "He's going to be the same hitter no matter where he's hitting in the lineup."
Cubs leadoff men rank 10th in the National League with a .325 OBP and ninth with 21 runs scored.