Rowson sees positives in Cubs' spring at-bats

Rowson sees positives in Cubs' spring at-bats

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs got a big piece of their lineup back on Wednesday with Starlin Castro's return. They're still missing Anthony Rizzo, who is playing for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic.

The offense hasn't been sharp, but hitting coach James Rowson isn't concerned.

"I'm focused on the quality of the at-bats, and honestly, there have been some really good quality at-bats," Rowson said before Wednesday's game against the Rockies. "There have been some situations where obviously you can nitpick here and there, but I think the overall quality of at-bats have been good. We've had a lot of hard-hit balls that have been caught. These guys are having quality approaches for the most part, so the positive side is that's what I'm taking out of Spring Training is that each at-bat has some positive stuff to it."

The Cubs entered Wednesday hitting .254, ranked 13th in the National League, and Rowson said he can't wait until the regular lineup is together.

"If we focus now on the quality of every plate appearance, and then we put together those eight guys in the lineup together, we should have some synergy working," Rowson said. "I'm not overly worried about it now and trying to stay the course."

Injuries have allowed the Cubs to get a good look at some of the younger players on the roster, including Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler.

"It's fun to watch him, to be honest," Rowson said. "It's a matter of learning him right now. We're letting him go out and show what he does naturally, his natural ability, and then we'll talk later. His natural ability speaks for itself so far. The power is ridiculous, the ability to lay off some tough breaking balls for a young kid is phenomenal, so obviously, he'll continue in his development, but he's on the right track."

Soler, who started in right field and hit seventh Wednesday, hit .304 in his first 13 games.

"The great part is that he's not intimidated at all," Rowson said. "He goes up there and he's very confident, no matter who he's facing. There's no, 'Oh, this pitcher is in the big leagues.' He's concerned about himself and performing, and he's done a good job so far."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.