5/10 Extra bases

* Starlin Castro was the Cubs’ leadoff man Friday by default.

“It’s just kind of process of elimination, really,” manager Dale Sveum said of his lineup against Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler. “The two choices were him and [Cody] Ransom, and having Ransom in the lineup, hopefully, he’ll hit a home run and I’d like him to do it with somebody on base.”

David DeJesus is the Cubs’ leadoff man against right-handed pitchers and Sveum was using outfielder Dave Sappelt there against left-handers but Sappelt was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on Monday after batting .178 in 20 games with the Cubs. The other possibility against southpaw starters is Julio Borbon, Sveum said.

“He’s one of those hitters where he’s going to be the same hitter no matter where you put him in the lineup,” Sveum said of Castro.

Castro was looking forward to the switch.

“I like it,” Castro said. “Wherever he puts me, I’ll do my job.”

* When Kyuji Fujikawa last pitched for the Cubs in mid April, he was the closer. On Friday, the Japanese right-hander was activated from the 15-day disabled list and won’t be used in the late innings, Sveum said.

“We’ll ease him in right now to make sure everything is good — velocity, command, life,” Sveum said. “We’ll ease him into whatever situation, sixth, seventh inning, depending on the score of the game, obviously.”

Said Fujikawa: “Who knows what role I’ll play in? Whatever the manager says, I’ll pitch in that role.”

Fujikawa, 32, has been sidelined since April 13 with a strained right forearm. In five relief appearances with the Cubs before he was injured, Fujikawa was 1-0 with two saves and a 12.46 ERA. He did not like being sidelined.

“I let the team down, so I would like to contribute more,” he said.

* Edwin Jackson caught up with his former teammates on the Nationals prior to Friday’s game. On Saturday, it’ll be all business when the Cubs right-hander faces Washington and Stephen Strasburg.

“It’s going to be fun,” Jackson said. “I get to face 98 [mph] tomorrow. I talked to ‘Stras’ and told him I’ll be ready to swing it. Once the game starts, it’ll be no friends and they’ll be trying to get me and I’ll be trying to get them.”

Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs in the offseason and enters Saturday’s game 0-5 with a 6.39 ERA.

“It’s been a slow start, to say the least,” he said. “It’s not exactly how I had it envisioned. I feel good mentally, physically. I’m ready to go. I’ll continue to work hard and continue to grind out the season and finish strong.”

* The Cubs traded infielder Alberto Gonzalez to the Yankees for future considerations. Gonzalez made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster, primarily to help in the infield while Darwin Barney was on the disabled list. In 11 games with the Cubs, he was 5-for-23 (.217).

— Carrie Muskat


Remember when we off-loaded pitcher Paul Maholm from our club last year? (this may be off the subject, but I can`t help bringing it up).I did not comprehend that decision then and still don`t. Maholm was pitching superbly at the time and , the last time I looked , is still very effective with the Braves. I did understand why we needed to divest ourselves of Dempster last season, as he was receiving an obscene salary and was in last year of contract. Truth be told, I coveted Maholm far more than Ryan. Still do not get it, meaning the Maholm deal. Would someone explain to me why that was a prudent decision? Also, who did we receive in return for sending Maholm to Braves? Those dudes are going to come under intense scrutiny from myself going forward.

Reed Johnson was actually my favorite Cubs player of recent vintage. Loved his energy and effort. Gave you all he had and still does with Braves (drove in two key runs last week in a specific game I recall). I love to see players like that excel, players who are not necessarily endowed with exceptional athleticism, but are determined to plow ahead and will their teams to victory. Thanks for that info., Mamma. Recollections of that deal are coming back to myself, thanks to you.

2 for 14 with runners in scoring position? That has been our issue all season. That is weak and beyond pathetic. Find some clutch hitters, Hoystein. It is not an enigma, as you would have us believe. Also, Smardz could have been more effective. I have no tolerance for errors. I reckon I read our pitchers have more errors (8) than any other team in baseball/ or is it just the NL? Either way, that sucks and is unacceptable. I am not going to tolerate it. What do you all think of that?

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