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Red-hot Lake gets breather as Cubs shuffle outfielders

Red-hot Lake gets breather as Cubs shuffle outfielders

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Red-hot Lake gets breather as Cubs shuffle outfielders

CHICAGO -- Junior Lake leads all Major League rookies in hits since the All-Star break, but on Saturday, the Cubs outfielder began with the day off.

Lake, who hit his first grand slam on Friday, was not in the Cubs' starting lineup against the Brewers. It's part of manager Dale Sveum's effort to give the outfielders on the roster enough playing time.

Sveum did turn to Lake as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, and the rookie came through with an infield single. However, he was cut down trying to steal second on a close play at the bag.

In 45 games with the Cubs, Lake has 55 hits, including five home runs. Sveum said he could project the outfielder finishing with at least 15 home runs in a full season.

"He's got tremendous raw ability," Sveum said. "We've witnessed that since the All-Star break. The power is there. You're talking about doing things, and people still have to get the 700 plate appearances to project anything. He has the power and ability to obviously hit 15 home runs [in a single season]."

Lake also showed his versatility on Friday with a bunt single. According to STATS Inc., he was the second player this season to hit a grand slam and a bunt single in the same game. The Indians' Michael Bourn also did so July 24 against the Mariners.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.

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