MESA, Ariz. -- Cubs Manager Rick Renteria temporarily defused a potential controversy Thursday when he publicly envisioned Darwin Barney as his starting second baseman.
"That's how I see it," Renteria said.
Renteria, however, might need to find positions for Emilio Bonifacio to play - including second base - if Bonifacio can give the offense a spark at the top of the order as he did in the first inning of the Cubs' Cactus League opener against the Diamondbacks.
Bonifacio legged out a triple and scored on a Luis Valbuena groundout. Bonifacio's best position is second base, but Renteria envisions using him in the same manner the Angels used Chone Figgins when Figgins was one of the most dangerous players in the American League because of his speed and versatility.
Renteria said he has done research on Bonifacio and Starlin Castro as potential leadoff batters. Bonifacio has a lifetime .327 on-base percentage in 1,075 plate appearances from the leadoff spot. Castro has a lifetime .345 on-base percentage in 524 plate appearances at the top of the order, which Renteria said was a "decent sample size."
Castillo's corner: Renteria's plan to employ catcher Welington Castillo as the designated hitter more often in exhibition games suits Castillo well. The Cubs want to preserve Castillo's endurance behind the plate during the regular season and Castillo would like to improve upon his .274 batting average from last season.
"It doesn't matter which way he gets me in the game," Castillo said. "I'm the older guy here. I just treat it as I'm trying to make the team. Like (Alfonso) Soriano told me, 'Just come to spring training with your mind open. You don't have anything. You're another guy trying to make the team.' Whatever (Renteria) wants to do, I'll do it. I'll get my work done and get ready for the season.
"I see myself never stopping to learn. Every day you learn something new. I've been working hard with the hitting coach (Bill Mueller) to get better every year. I know I can do better than what I did. I have more than that. Hopefully I'll do very well and get better every year."
Replays and rants: Ejections still will persist despite the enforcement of instant replay to settle close calls, Renteria said.
"I don't think that's going to stop," Renteria said. "There are still so many things you can go out and argue. It's just once you get to talking about a reviewable play and they come back, it's set in stone, you see the video. ... There's nothing more you can do in that regard (once a decision is made).
"But there are other things. You can still complain about balls and strikes. There are various things you can do that probably can get you ejected."
No pain: Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa threw off a mound for the second time without any discomfort. Fujikawa is recovering from reconstructive right elbow surgery.