Cubs like their speed just off the lead
April, 25, 2012
By Doug Padilla | ESPNChicago.com
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum might not bat his pitcher eighth like former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa used to do, but he's leaving his own mark by batting his fastest player second.
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhTony Campana's speed and ability to bunt make him well-suited for the two-hole, according to Dale Sveum.
A speedster like Tony Campana usually is ideal for the leadoff spot because he can get on base to start the game and there is no traffic in front of him to start stealing bags.
But Sveum has a leadoff man he likes in David DeJesus so Campana has been batting second in the few starting chances he's received since being recalled this past weekend. Sveum's spin is that he can tap into other qualities Campana offers.
“DeJesus' on-base percentage has been good; he can drive the ball and hit doubles," Sveum said. “Campana then can bunt him over as well as get a hit when he's bunting him over. It's kind of one of those things that I like DeJesus there and Campana being able to bunt. When he's putting a sacrifice bunt down or bunting for a base hit the odds are pretty good in our favor that he's getting him over and possibly getting on base with a hit."
Asked if he could see moving Campana to the leadoff spot eventually Sveum chuckled and reminded everybody that it's only been a couple of days. But he didn't say he wouldn't do that down the line if DeJesus was struggling or needed a day off.
What has become clear is that Sveum has a traditional National League manager's style, using the sacrifice bunt liberally. He has no qualms about using the first-inning sacrifice bunt.
“I think you have to do it because you're putting pressure on the defense to throw a ball away," Sveum said. “(With Campana bunting) it's going to be bang-bang [at first base] whether it's at somebody or not. And if he pulls off a good bunt he's going to be safe."
It might not hurt that by being in the second hole, Campana isn't thinking about the pressures of setting the table as a leadoff guy and can just do what the situation dictates.
“Campy brings a lot the team," DeJesus said. “He's a special type of player. My job is to get on base for him and make his life easier, bunting the ball and putting pressure on the other teams. If I can do that and have him batting second, the way he's swinging it right now, it's definitely going to help [Starlin Castro, [Bryan LaHair and [Alfonso Soriano with some RBIs."