Two of the most sought-after Cubs in the clubhouse before Monday's series opener against the Brewers were closer Kevin Gregg and right fielder Nate Schierholtz.
Either one could be the next player traded with the July 31 nonwaiver deadline at hand.
"It's not my first go-round with the trading deadline," Gregg said. "Rumors swirl, and front offices are running all kind of scenarios. We can't get involved in that stuff as players. We've got to worry about the job on the field and go from there."
Gregg entered Monday with 22 saves in 25 chances and, aside from some hiccups since late June, he has been a key force in stabilizing the Cubs' bullpen since signing with the team in mid-April.
"If you're going to put one piece of the puzzle of why we've played better the last couple months," manager Dale Sveum said, "it's obviously him because I think besides one blown save or whatever it is, he's done far and above anything we expected."
Junior Lake made his Wrigley Field debut, starting in left field. Lake, who came up from Class AAA Iowa on July 19 in Colorado, went 15-for-43 (.349) on the road trip. That included Lake going hitless in the final three games of the trip.
After striking out in the first inning Monday night, Lake singled in the third.
Dale Sveum cut Lake some slack because he faced Giants pitchers Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum over the weekend.
It looks like the 23-year-old Lake is here to stay.
"We're not going to panic over an 0-for-13," Sveum said. "He had to face Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain. So you're facing Cy Youngs and guys that have done a lot of good things in their careers.
"Those are the things for a kid like him with the ability he has is the learning experience we talk about.
"That's why you want some guys to be here a little bit earlier sometimes to get that taste and see major-league pitching on an everyday basis and have to make those adjustments."
"As far as I'm concerned, he's going to be in there pretty much every day unless I just feel he needs a day off."
Dale Sveum said he was saddened to hear of the death of former Cubs pitcher Frank Castillo, who drowned in Arizona Sunday.
"Sad to hear today," Sveum said. "Obviously, it was a bad accident, a lake close to my house. He lived right over the hill from me. I didn't see him a lot, but a great guy, and he was a great teammate when I played with him. It's an unfortunate accident."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.