Cubs' Rookie Hoffpauir Pushing For Time

Christopher J. FarinoContributor IApril 27, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 17:  Micah Hoffpauir #6 of the Chicago Cubs bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Chicago Cubs have a strong starting line-up and few rookies are getting there chances to play, but 29-year-old rookie Micah Hoffpauir has big power and is beginning to give Lou Piniella something to think about.

Hoffpauir smashed his second home run of the season in the Cubs 10-3 win over the Cardinals when he started for the injured Derek Lee.

Derek Lee is suffering from neck spasms and could be out a few games, but the seriousness is unknown at this time.

Hoffpauir can also play outfield, but his defense is below average and Piniella doesn't really see him in that role. Unfortunately for Hoffpauir that means he is likely going to have to battle it out with Lee at first base and barring a serious Lee injury, that is a likely losing proposition.

So where is the hope for Hoffpauir? The greatest hope still lies in the health of Derek Lee, but trades down the line could see the Cubs possibly dealing Hoffpauir to a team where he can start or a less-likely option of Lee being traded. If not a Lee injury, or a trade, Hoffpauir's last hope is to improve his defense in the outfield and challenge Milton Bradley for playing time.

The bottom line is Hoffpauir can hit and hitting leads to playing time. He had a big '09 Spring and this is after batting .362 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI's all with just 290 at bats in AAA Iowa in 2008.