Aramis only certainty in Quade's lineup plans

Aramis only certainty in Quade's lineup plans

Aramis only certainty in Quade's lineup plans
MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs manager Mike Quade will post the lineup for the Cactus League opener on Friday, and the only thing that appears to be set is that Aramis Ramirez will bat fourth.

That's been Ramirez's spot for the majority of his career, and where he's hit for the Cubs.

"I see him as such a good RBI guy that it makes sense in the four-hole," Quade said Thursday of the third baseman, who has a career .293 average with runners on. "He's a guy who, as much mixing and matching that I do, he doesn't figure to be one of the guys I'll mix and match with. Some guys don't care [where they are in the lineup], and I know he does. He seems like the four-hole to me because I want him driving in runs.

"But I'm a grownup and I reserve the right to change my mind."

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Which means, expect some experimentation this spring.

Quade would like to keep Starlin Castro No. 2. The shortstop does have speed and can bunt. Couldn't he lead off?

"No," Quade said. "Because he's young. ... He hasn't earned the right to figure he's going to hit anywhere, although he hit .300 in the two-hole. I think I'm smart enough to say, 'Look, I'll take .300 in the two-hole again.'"

Castro, entering his second season, still needs to learn pitch selection and still needs to get more experience.

"There's all sorts of value for where he's at right now," Quade said of the shortstop, who turns 21 in March. "I'd like to think he will be talented enough to be that guy someday."

Quade's other reason to keep Castro in a spot where he's comfortable is because of the dreaded sophomore jinx.

"I am leery, and I hope he proves me wrong, but I am leery about the second year thing, too," Quade said. "If we want this guy to play well and especially get off to a decent start with all the adjustments that will be made by other clubs on him, if we leave him somewhere where he's comfortable, I'd like to do that."

Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza, who will be the Nos. 2 and 3 starters, respectively, in the Cubs' rotation, both are slated to pitch Sunday in the Cactus League opener against the Athletics. Closer Carlos Marmol also will get one inning of work.

Quade plans on posting Sunday's lineup on Friday, and also would like to note not only the starters but the subs as well.

"I want to sit and evaluate and watch guys play," Quade said, "and there's no reason in the world why I can't say, [Castro] is playing short for five innings, two at-bats, and [Darwin] Barney is picking him up.'"

Quade did try to get a head start on plotting his lineups a couple days ago and had a few players set for the entire month of March. Then he realized that he'd forgot to include the four split-squad games on the Cubs' schedule.