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Cubs keeping faith in platoon

Published: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:54 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:56 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Jose M. Osorio)
MCT Ryan Kalish is part of the platoon of players vying for time in the Cubs' outfield. So far, the system has not yielded very good results for any of the players.

The Cubs entered the season with a platoon system for all three outfield positions, and hoped they could maximize the talents of a group of players who were used to part-time play, or just breaking into the major leagues.

A challenging seven-game visit to National League division champions in Atlanta and St. Louis await them, but Thursday night's collection of outfielders showed signs that they could snap out of their 5½-week slump.

Ryan Kalish, Nate Schierholtz and Junior Lake combined for six hits in the Cubs 12-5 victory over the White Sox in the City Series finale – two more than the entire Cubs' offense mustered in each of their previous three games.

"Obviously, it has to get better," general manager Jed Hoyer said of an outfield that had produced only four home runs and 35 RBIs entering play Thursday night. "The players who have struggled offensively so far [have] played below where I think they'll end up at the end of the year.

"So if there's an area of the team I expect to bounce back, it's the outfield."

Kalish provided the spark from the leadoff spot in place of Emilio Bonifacio, who was 2-for-19 in his last five games. Kalish sparked a four-run third against the Sox with a leadoff triple.

Before the game, Hoyer reiterated his faith in right fielder Schierholtz, who hit 21 home runs last season, but has yet to hit a homer in 2014 and is batting .200. Schierholtz collected two hits, and scored the Cubs' fourth run in the third.

"He'll bounce back," Hoyer said. "He never has played like this in his career, and guys usually find their levels. You look around baseball, and most teams have a guy or two guys well below their career norms, and a guy or two who are well above.

"And those things level out. I look at it as a weird positive, and he should break out and help us."

The Cubs' outfield depth has been stretched since Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney went on the disabled list with hamstring strains.

Ruggiano, who is eligible to come off the DL Friday but isn't close to being ready, had four runs in his last two games before suffering the injury on April 23.

 

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