Russell in cleanup spot when Zobrist rests?

Cubs shortstop looking like powerful option for Maddon

Russell in cleanup spot when Zobrist rests?

MESA, Ariz. -- On Tuesday, Addison Russell batted fourth for the Cubs, and hit his second home run in two games, a three-run shot in the third inning of a 7-5 loss to the Angels. Ben Zobrist is expected to bat cleanup most of the regular season. Could Russell fill that spot when Zobrist gets a day off?

"I honestly have not thought about that significantly, but I need to," manager Joe Maddon said.

In his rookie year, Russell batted ninth, behind the pitcher, the majority of the 2015 season, and he moved up last season, hitting fourth in two games. On Monday, Russell hit his first spring home run, an impressive shot to left. Tuesday's blast sailed to center field. In his rookie season, Russell hit 13 homers in 142 games, and last season, he belted 21 in 151 games with 95 RBIs.

Russell's solo smash

"I think the power will keep getting more consistent," Maddon said. "I think the power has been there. The ball comes off his bat hot. He had two strikes [Monday] and drew his hands inside. He's strong. When a young guy like that starts understanding what he's doing and getting in better counts, that's when you'll see more consistent power. He's already powerful."

Worth noting
• Maddon has picked his Opening Day starter, but he wasn't ready to announce it because he hasn't talked to all the pitchers involved. Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks are the candidates. None of them have pitched yet this spring as the Cubs ease them back into action following the long 2016 season.

• The Cubs are sorting out their lefty relievers, and on Tuesday, Brian Duensing and Caleb Smith each got some work in against the Angels. Duensing scattered three hits over two innings in his second spring outing, while Smith gave up a solo homer to C.J. Cron with two out in the third. Smith, 25, is a Rule 5 Draft pick, while the Cubs signed Duensing, 34, who was a free agent.

"We'll try to get them as much work as possible," Maddon said. "Spring Training performances are hard to evaluate. In [Smith's] case, we'll look under the hood more."

Jemile Weeks sustained a hyperextended left knee in a collision at second base on Monday against the White Sox. Maddon said Weeks was fine, but sore. Infielder Tommy La Stella also was day to day with a tight left hamstring.

• The Cubs' wives and girlfriends will host a garage sale on Friday at Sloan Park prior to the Cactus League game against the Reds to benefit Paz de Cristo, a local community center.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.