As Chicago Cubs position players reported for spring training, two intriguing questions emerged: Who's on third, and who bats leadoff?
The Cubs went with a committee of journeymen at third last year, and the group proved relatively productive. Luis Valbuena, the since-released Cody Ransom and Donnie Murphy combined for 32 home runs. However, each of those players is best suited for utility work, and none is the long-term answer at the hot corner for Chicago.
"Between the three, they made a pretty good solid one," said Rick Renteria, who is entering his first season as the Cubs' manager. "We're going to continue to see these guys go out there and do their thing. We'll use whatever means we have -- and whatever flexibility we have -- to make the best possible one that we can. If it happens to be one guy, it's one guy. We'll continue to mix and match."
The long-term answer appears to be Kris Bryant, last year's first-round draft choice. However, he'll open this season in the minor leagues, most likely at Double-A (Kodak) Tennessee. Mike Olt, a former top pick of the Rangers, also is in camp, and he will have a shot at winning the job after vision problems derailed his 2013 season in the minor leagues.
As far as the leadoff spot goes, shortstop Starlin Castro could get that job. The Cubs were a miserable on-base percentage team last year, and Castro's OBP was only .284. However, he may be the team's only option.
"Starlin has had that role in the past," Renteria said.
The since-departed David DeJesus manned the leadoff spot for the Cubs 66 times last season. Castro topped the lineup 40 times, including each of the last 37 games of the season. Five other players drew starts in the No. 1 spot, including Valbuena, who batted first 22 times.