Contreras appears ready to move up in the order

As Cubs catcher Willson Contreras starts to gain veteran respect, it appears he's also getting a promotion in the batting order.

Contreras batted second in Wednesday night's 8-2 victory over San Diego, going 3-for-4 with a triple, home run and 5 RBI in the process. Manager David Ross made it sound like that will be the plan when the regular season arrives, using Contreras in the No. 2 slot, between Ian Happ and Anthony Rizzo.

"You want your better players close to the top of the lineup to get the most at bats," Ross said in a Zoom call with reporters Thursday. "I think he's one of those guys that does a lot of things well. He sees pitches. It's really a pain-in-the-butt at bat from the other team's perspective, right? He's a nuisance up there for the other team and I love that at the top of the lineup when you've got the big boys coming behind him."

Contreras joined newcomer Joc Pederson as far as two players who found their stroke right away this spring. Contreras is hitting .348, with Pederson at an even .500 with 5 home runs.

"We'll continue to move (Contreras) around," Ross said. "I know he's batting in the two-hole a lot, but I think I've got him in the five-hole coming up in a couple days too."

Another Contreras feat on Wednesday was collecting a stolen base, while also throwing out San Diego's Jurickson Profar trying to steal.

Ross flips on DH: During a discussion about Kyle Hendricks' single and near-collision at first base in Wednesday's game, Cubs manager David Ross admitted he's changed his mind about using the designated hitter in the National League. After using it last summer, the NL scrapped it this year, but it's likely to return eventually.

"When you're in the game and being in the National League most of my career, you don't want the game you're playing messed with. That's kind of how it works," Ross said. "Then going over to the American League and watching a guy like David Ortiz in Boston hit every day. That's pretty spectacular watching what that brings from a fans' perspective.

"I think it's just more exciting to see a real bat come up there with some potential damage. (Having the DH) made my job easier in a lot of ways."

Cubs beat Cleveland: After using a potential opening-day lineup on Wednesday night, Ross turned to the subs on Thursday. David Bote and Jake Marisnick homered in a 4-3 victory over Cleveland. Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta had a nice outing, with 5 strikeouts and 1 earned run over four innings.

Cubs pitchers piled up 16 strikeouts in the nine-inning game. Relievers Dillon Maples and Keegan Thompson each recorded 3 strikeouts in a single inning.

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