Baseball / Sports

Cubs rookies come up big in 6-0 victory over Padres

General manager Jed Hoyer's feelings Tuesday night regarding Arismendy Alcantara's immediate future was clear.

"It's time for Mendy to play," Hoyer said before Alcantara hit his second home run in nine games since being promoted from Triple-A Iowa.

And after Kyle Hendricks threw seven scoreless innings in his second major league start, the rookie earned himself a more secure spot in the Cubs' retooled rotation after a 6-0 victory over the Padres at hot and stifling Wrigley Field that snapped a five-game losing streak.

Anthony Rizzo took over the National League lead with 25 home runs after smacking two, but the developments surrounding Alcantara and Hendricks were a strong indication that the Cubs are taking a deeper look into their much-hyped future.

Alcantara, who went 1-for-4 with a walk, will play mostly center field after spending most of this season at second base for Iowa.

With Darwin Barney's departure, Emilio Bonifacio will take over at second base -- for now.

With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, Bonifacio realizes he could be getting a close look from teams seeking a speedy switch-hitting infielder-outfielder.

"I've been in that situation the past two years," Bonifacio said before collecting two hits and scoring the Cubs' first run. "I just look forward to keep playing here. If I don't, that's part of the game."

Hoyer said the recent shift of marquee prospect Javier Baez from shortstop to second base wasn't connected to Barney being designated for assignment and Alcantara playing primarily center field.

"But that said, with a lot of our guys, we're going to start moving them around and see what they can do in different spots," Hoyer said.

Hoyer added that it would take longer for Baez, 21, to get acclimated to second base because he has played shortstop throughout his minor league career.

"The initial reports on his defense at second base have been very good," Hoyer said.

Baez would have moved to second base sooner if he had not struggled at the plate, but he has rebounded recently with a 15-game hitting streak that ended Tuesday.

"We waited until he got going," Hoyer said of Baez, who is batting .249 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs. "We're proud of what he has done this year. In some ways, it has been ideal for him. He really struggled in April and in May a bit. He has built on every single month until the last three to four weeks, he has been outstanding. And hopefully we'll continue to see that trajectory.

"But in the minor leagues, you want to see guys finishing strong and conquer that level, and his trajectory and ability to fight though a difficult start has been really impressive."

Left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada will get a chance to earn more secure spot in the rotation Wednesday night. A decision on reliever Kyuji Fujikawa, who was transferred to Triple-A Iowa on a rehab assignment, could come in a few weeks.

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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