That subject became hot even before Saturday's trade of Marlon Byrd to the Boston Red Sox for reliever Michael Bowden. Byrd batted .070 for the Cubs on 3-for-43 hitting, and the natives were getting restless.
From the moment they took over, team president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have said they will not rush top prospects such as Jackson and first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Hoyer reiterated that Saturday night after the Byrd trade.
Field manager Dale Sveum said he wasn't going to get impatient waiting for Jackson, who was hitting .254 at Class AAA Iowa with 21 strikeouts in 67 at-bats.
"Just the plan, we want to stick with (it)," Sveum said Sunday before the Cubs fell 4-3 to the Cincinnati Reds. "Develop him. He still needs to develop. He's still striking out a little too much. He needs to be a little more conscious and a little bit better in that situation because if you're striking out that much in Triple-A, then it's going to be that much more with big-league pitching.
"The development part is big for everybody. I think until you get those 500 at-bats at Triple-A, that's something I think the organization, that Theo really wants to impress on a young guy, is you're going to stay and play and develop."
So for now, look for the Cubs to go with a trio of Tony Campana, Reed Johnson and Joe Mather in center field. Campana brings blazing speed. Johnson is a steady veteran. Mather is a utility guy who can play the infield and the outfield.
--SS Starlin Castro singled in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. In the ninth inning, he hit his second triple in two days. He has reached base safely in 55 of his last 56 games dating to last Aug. 15. He also has a 10-game hitting streak (17-for-40, .425). Castro and the Cubs got a scare in the seventh inning, when he was hit on the left elbow by a pitch from the Reds' Johnny Cueto. He stayed in the game after several minutes on the ground. "I felt like it broke my whole arm the first time he hit me," Castro said. "But after I lay down and ran the bases, the hurt was gone and I felt pretty good."
--RHP Michael Bowden, obtained late Saturday in the trade for CF Marlon Byrd, is expected to arrive Monday at Wrigley Field and be active for the series opener against the Cardinals. The Cubs will need to make a roster move. Manager Dale Sveum said he expects to use Bowden as a middle reliever, getting work as late as the seventh inning. Bowden is a Chicago-area product.
--RHP Randy Wells made his first major league start of the season as he was called up from Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa. Wells was just so-so, lasting five innings and giving up six hits and two runs while walking five and striking out two. He threw 31 of his 93 pitches in the first inning. "I just put myself in a couple of jams," he said. "The pitch count got up there. Obviously, the walks were pretty negative. I battled through it. Getting back out there was fun. I wish the outcome were a little better."
--RHP Ryan Dempster went on the DL Saturday with a strained right quadriceps. The move was retroactive to April 18, and Dempster said he believes he'll be ready to pitch when the DL stint is over. He said he suffered the injury throwing his bullpen session two days after last Tuesday's start at Florida. "When it happened, I figured it would be a few days, at least," he said. An avid hockey fan, Dempster said he likes the Chicago Blackhawks to come back in their series against Phoenix. The Hawks are down three games to two.
"Absolutely," Dempster said. "Just got to win the next game. That's it."
That puts him at odds with manager Dale Sveum, a Coyotes fan.
--1B Bryan LaHair drove in the tying run in the fifth inning to make the game 2-2. He was double-switched out of the lineup after that inning even though he has been one of the Cubs' two best hitters, behind SS Starlin Castro. Manager Dale Sveum explained it by saying he wanted relief pitcher Rodrigo Lopez to go long (he didn't, lasting one-third of an inning) and that the Reds had three tough lefties in the pen. LaHair is a left-handed batter, and Sveum said he would not have double-switched him if the Reds' bullpen were right-hand dominant.
BY THE NUMBERS: 5 -- The Cubs have just five home runs and haven't hit one since April 13. LF Alfonso Soriano has nothing but singles in his first 11 hits of the season. The team's slugging percentage is an anemic .330, while the on-base percentage is .296.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He was a pro's pro. He came in every day and played as hard as he could. He was as prepared as anybody. We'll miss that around here. I enjoyed every moment of it as a teammate and as a friend. I wish him nothing but the best." -- Veteran RHP Ryan Dempster, on CF Marlon Byrd, traded to the Red Sox.
--RHP Ryan Dempster (strained right quadriceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 18. He might be able to return as soon as he is eligible.
--RHP Kerry Wood (right shoulder fatigue) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 14. He had a cortisone shot April 18.
--RHP Marcos Mateo (ulnar neuritis in right arm) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4.
LF Alfonso Soriano
CF Marlon Byrd
RF David DeJesus
OF Reed Johnson
OF Tony Campana