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Previewing Thursday's Pirates-Cubs game

Pirates/MLB Videos

Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 7:24 p.m.
 

X-factors

Pirates beat reporterRob Biertempfel's inside look at Thursday's game:

• Last season, ex-Cubs RHP Carlos Marmol was removed from the closer's role after three outings. Jose Veras has held onto the job longer this year, but his grip is not firm. After a rocky spring training, Veras yielded three runs and six walks over his first three outings this season. There were groans among fans at Wrigley Field when Veras took the mound Tuesday, although he tossed a clean inning against the Pirates.

• Cubs SS Starlin Castro was moved up to the No. 2 spot in the lineup Wednesday against LHP Wandy Rodriguez, but the move probably is not permanent. In the previous three games, Castro, a righty batter, banged out seven hits while batting sixth, and he could go back to that spot Thursday against RHP Gerrit Cole.

The Buzz

Cubs OF Junior Lake, who has not yet started a game against a right-hander, told ESPN.com he's frustrated over his lack of playing time. “I don't see the difference, righty or lefty,” Lake said. “It doesn't matter.” Last year, Lake hit .377 vs. LHPs and .251 vs. RHPs.

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