With Starlin Castro entering his third year in the majors, Dale Sveum and the Cubs decided to place the young star in the No. 3 spot in the order in hopes he would stick there long-term.
It didn't work out as they had hoped and Castro was moved back to the two-hole on a regular basis, beginning a merry-go-round at the No. 3 spot on the lineup card.
Sveum tried Joe Mather for seven games, but the utilityman only mustered a .222 average and didn't drive in a single run. David DeJesus (.162 AVG in 11 games), Bryan LaHair (.489 OPS in four games) and Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 in his only game) didn't fare much better.
But with top prospect Anthony Rizzo's call-up this week, Sveum finally has his guy.
"He's our third hitter," Sveum said of Rizzo. "I don't see changing that in the future."
The first-year manager described his ideal No. 3 hitter and Rizzo currently fits the bill.
"One thing you want from your third hitter is some power and grinding for RBIs," Sveum said. "When guys get out there on base, he'll understand how to get them in...When you lead off with a single and a double and runners on second and third, he's mature enough to get 'em over and get RBIs in situations you don't want to falter in.
"You want a real solid guy that can do a lot of things. Obviously, home runs are nice, and average is nice. But those key RBIs in the first inning are the biggest of all to take the lead or tie the game. Those are a lot of key situations that come up for a third hitter over the course of 162 games."
In the first inning Friday, Rizzo came up with the bases empty, but worked a seven-pitch walk before he was stranded on third base on a LaHair ground out. He finished the contest 0-for-3 in his third game since his call-up.
LaHair, Rizzo's predecessor at first base before a move to the outfield, collected three singles in the win over the Astros to raise his average to .288 and OPS to .902. But the late bloomer may not see many at-bats during the rest of the series.
Houston is slated to send two lefties out to the mound over the weekend, with J.A. Happ first up on Saturday before Wandy Rodriguez goes on Sunday.
LaHair has struggled mightily against left-handed pitching, compiling a .086.200.171 slash line in 40 plate appearances so far this season. By contrast, he is hitting .320.396.604 against righties.
Despite those numbers, Sveum said he was entertaining the thought of leaving LaHair in against a left-handed starter here or there.
"You just have to see some results," Svuem said. "Unfortunately, the results just are not real competitive. But you do also need to give him a chance once in a while."
As for Rizzo, Sveum said the 22-year-old slugger was going to stay in the lineup against lefties for the foreseeable future. This weekend will be a good test for the potential franchise cornerstone.