Emilio Bonifacio is the change-of-pace player the Chicago Cubs need in their organization.
He set a modern-day Major League Baseball record with nine hits in the team’s first two games of the season and after a 3-for-5 night in a 7-6 loss to the Pirates Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, Bonifacio has a .515 batting average.
That’s impressive for a player who was designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals on Jan. 31.
But after clearing waivers, Bonifacio signed a deal with the Cubs – a place he would have an opportunity to start.
The versatile leadoff hitter brings a unique dimension to a Chicago offense that lacks charisma. Bonifacio has stolen five bases in seven games, including one Tuesday which led to the tying run after Anthony Rizzo belted the baseball through the middle in the seventh inning.
Rizzo is one of the few Cubs who are expected to be productive offensively this season because a majority of the lineup is scattered with sub-par players. But realistically, more than just Bonifacio will have to emerge if Chicago wants to be in any sort of playoff race during July, August and September.
Bonifacio can set the table all he wants, but he isn’t one to drive in runners. He only has 133 RBIs during his eight-year career with a season-best 36 in 2011 with the Florida Marlins. Someone else on the Cubs has to be the driving force. As I mentioned earlier, Rizzo can be that guy, but that might not be enough.
Despite Tuesday’s loss, often-belittled shortstop Starlin Castro had a coming out party offensively. He went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs.
Castro, who missed a majority of spring training with a hamstring injury wasn’t shy when saying he has his feeling back.
“He’s just starting to get into a rhythm,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “You can’t expect him to hit two homers every day, but his approaches are working.”
Renteria has his team competing, but all the pieces to the puzzle aren’t in place. Bonifacio is the type of player that can make this offense go, but he won’t be able to do it alone. He can be Robin, but someone else needs to be Batman.