Where will Starlin Castro hit in the order? In the last Inbox, you suggested Castro hit third even though his best production has come from the No. 2 hole. Last year, his production dropped off significantly when he was removed from the No. 1 or 2 spots. Please tell me I'm not the only one seeing this. -- Pete H., Gibson City, Ill.
No, you're not alone. Usually, a team's best hitter is third in the order, which is why I inserted Castro there. You're right about a dropoff in the three-hole. Castro hit .327 (102-for-312) as the leadoff man, .335 (59-for-176) batting second, and .225 (40-for-178) in the No. 3 spot. Let's see what manager Dale Sveum comes up with lineup-wise this spring.
Who do you think will pitch on Opening Day?
-- Aldo P., Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
It will likely come down to Ryan Dempster, who started the season opener last year, or Matt Garza.
Does Theo Epstein see Ian Stewart as the third baseman of the future? I've been excited about Josh Vitters since we drafted him third overall in 2007 and would really like to see him as our everyday third baseman.
-- Brian J., Chicago
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Vitters, who is coming off his best season in the Minors, will get a good look this spring, but heading into camp, Stewart is projected as the Cubs' third baseman for 2012. That's as far into the future as I can predict.
I saw that Dan Vogelbach moved into the top 10 among first-base prospects in baseball. Who is he?
-- Adam C., Aurora, Ill.
Vogelbach was selected by the Cubs in the second round (68th overall) in last June's First-Year Player Draft out of Bishop Verot (Fla.) High School, and got a brief taste of pro ball when he played last summer in the Rookie League (7-for-24 in six games). A left-handed hitter, one scouting report called him "the most feared high-school hitter in the country. He hits balls hard as a matter of routine."
If you do a Google search, you find video of him slugging home runs. He is quick, despite his large physique (think Prince Fielder). He's got power, hitting a 500-foot homer during a home run derby in 2010.
Does the team expect any changes to the Wrigley Field rules regarding field of play or home run calls as it relates to the renovations with the right-field bleachers? For example, a fly ball bounces off the electronic scoreboard and onto the field, is the ball in play? Based on the image, it seems the basket would mark that boundary. What's the official word?
-- Dave H., Chicago
Cubs officials say the yellow line that rims the top of the outfield wall will not be changed in right field with the new configuration. That would mean that as long as a ball is hit over the yellow line, it's a home run. If it bounces off the scoreboard and back onto the field, it's not in play.