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Cubs

Even from a distance, it's easy to pick Robel Garcia out of the crowd of Cubs players as he rocks red sleeves underneath his jersey to match his red batting gloves. 

It's also been easy to project him into the Cubs lineup of late — playing second base and hitting toward the bottom of the order. 

As the Cubs kicked off the second half of the season Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, there was Garcia again, drawing his fourth straight start. 

The Cubs could use an offensive spark and right before the All-Star Break, Garcia showed flashes of being that guy with 4 hits — including 2 homers and a triple — and a pair of walks. That gives him 23 homers this year between the majors and two levels of minor-league ball.

The switch-hitter wasn't immediately able to carry that success over into the second half, as he struck out in each of his first two trips to the plate against Pittsburgh's Chris Archer Friday. But he drove in a run his third time up with a hard-hit sacrifice fly to right field. 

In general, the Cubs need more production out of the second base position and at least in the short-term, they'll continue to give Garcia an opportunity. Maddon has him scheduled to start at least one more game against the Pirates this weekend.

"We're gonna find out [what Garcia can offer]," Maddon said Friday morning. "Obviously he came out swinging the bat very well. His primary position has been second base. He's played some third base, also. You want to keep him pretty comfortable with all that.

 

"Both sides of the plate — I was watching him right-handed and it's a really nice, short swing and — *boom* — that ball went pretty far. We just need to get him out there. ... Just let him go play. The kid's been through a lot to get here. I don't want to heap a lot of extravagant expectations on him right now. ... I think it's wise to just go let him play and see where it takes us."

A little over a week ago, the 26-year-old Garcia had never played in the big leagues and up until Friday, he had never even stepped foot onto Wrigley Field. 

His main focus has been on tamping down his anxiety and excitement as he tries to get used to the speed of the big-league game and the pressure that comes with it. 

"I just need to try to take control to slow the game down and hopefully that should help things slow down for me to be able to stay here," Garcia said. "[Getting to play at Wrigley Field] is another goal accomplished. This is a historic team with a historic fanbase and I'm really glad to be here."