It was barely two years ago that Ryan Theriot uttered maybe the most infamous words of his Cubs career: ''He's going to have to come and get it.''

Three months later, Starlin Castro did just that, taking the shortstop job from Theriot. Three teams later, Theriot was in the San Francisco Giants' lineup against the Cubs in a spring training game Friday at HoHoKam Park.

Not that it's necessarily Castro's turn now, but the kid shortstop might be hearing a few echoes from the past, if not the footsteps of the Cubs' next big thing at shortstop.

Castro smiled when asked whether he issued the Theriot Challenge to Junior Lake.

''Yeah, I tell him all the time,'' said Castro, who has become close to Lake since the two signed as free agents from the Dominican Republic three months apart in the winter of 2006-07. ''I tell him to get ready, be ready. .?.?. You can play in the big leagues soon — very fast — like me.''

Even if they play the same position?

''I tell him, don't worry about it,'' Castro said.

That's the thing about the Cubs' shortstop situation this time around. After nearly two decades of instability there in the post-Shawon Dunston era, Lake's major-league debut won't be about another changing of the guard.