Saturday, March 16, 2013
DeJesus not giving up job just yet
By Jesse Rogers
MESA, Ariz. –- Chicago Cubs center fielder David DeJesus isn’t quite ready to give up his position to prospect Brett Jackson or anyone else yet. He’s quietly having a very good spring.
“I want my job,” DeJesus said before leading off against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. “I’m taking that as everyday working hard for it and I’m going to make it tough on them. That’s ultimately my job, to make decisions tough on them.”
DeJesus, 33, is in the last year of his two-year deal, which means his age and contract situation -– on this team at least -– make him eligible to be sold to the highest bidder before the trade deadline in July.
“Not worried about it,” he stated. “All I can control is going out there and putting my work in and giving it my best. We’ll let that speak.”
DeJesus is hitting .304 this spring going into Saturday's game, in which he homered to lead off for the Cubs. But even that doesn’t describe his offensive approach well enough. He’s been on everything thrown to him, even when making outs. Manager Dale Sveum has noticed it as well. DeJesus says he and hitting coach James Rowson have made adjustments.
“We found something that clicks,” DeJesus explained. “Actually it’s just looking at the ball. You always take for granted seeing the ball but I started looking at the inner half of the ball and it’s helped me out because you’re able to trust your hands and do all the stuff that I’m doing in the cage and can bring it to the game.”
Focusing on something specific out of a pitcher’s hand isn’t uncommon.
“Everyone is a bit different in their approach,” Sveum said. “You focus on a piece of the ball, your head stays right. You can go on and on about that stuff but it gives you something to focus on.”
DeJesus got on base 35 percent of the time last season, up from 32 percent a year ago. He thinks he can get on even more -– if he doesn’t get lazy and go back to hitting by “feel.”
“It gives you something to think about,” he said. “You’re using your eyes. Sometimes you take it for granted and just do it by feel. You’re focusing on something.”
He has been spraying the ball to all fields against right and left handed pitchers. Then he went out and defended his title in the bunt competition. He’s been asked more than once if he’ll bunt more this season.
“The bunt contest is sitting back here and a guy lobbing it in,” he laughed. “It’s not the same as a guy throwing 95 mph.”
As for being traded this season he thinks there’s one way to prevent it: by the Cubs winning.
“It’s a new season,” DeJesus stated. “Once April 1 comes around, you turn it up a little more. Things matter. Let’s go out there and see what happens.”
Rizzo is Back
His WBC experience over, first baseman Anthony Rizzo is back in Cubs camp and ready for the rest of spring training.
“I had never played in anything so I didn’t know what to expect,” Rizzo said on Saturday, his first day back in camp. “It was a lot of fun coming out of it.”
Team Italy surprised many in advancing to the second round and they nearly went further than that.
“When it kicked in, everyone turned it up another level,” he said. “We had a lead in every game.”
As for his preparation for the season, Rizzo said the WBC didn’t necessarily get him more ready just because he was playing in meaningful games. He needs more at-bats.
“I still need to see pitches,” Rizzo explained. “Need more at-bats, more repetition.”
And he’s not turned off by the lack of intensity spring games bring compared to the WBC.
“It’s baseball,” he said. “Had fun there, will have fun here.”