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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
DeWitt a work in progress at second base

By Bruce Levine

MESA, Ariz. -- The one position that is still up for grabs in Chicago Cubs camp is second base. Although Blake Dewitt was a frontrunner to win the job early in spring training, manager Mike Quade hasn't made a decision about who will be his regular season baseman.

Blake DeWitt
Blake DeWitt is still learning second base after playing mostly third with the Dodgers.
"There are plenty of guys in the mdidle of the diamond who are playing well," Quade said. "They are doing what they do. [DeWitt] is a left-handed bat in the midst of those guys. He's a guy we would like to be able to count on. But we are going to look at everybody."

That list includes DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Darwin Barney and Augie Ojeda. DeWitt has struggled defensively early in spring training. Quade and his staff are concerned not only by DeWitt's errors [he has committed two in Cactus League play] but also by some of the missed opportunities when he could have turned double plays.

"[DeWitt has] got some work to do," Quade said. "Nobody works harder than him. He's going from third base to second base. We backed off third base completely. And I think to me the main point would be consistency around the bag turning the double play."

DeWitt, who was out early taking extra ground balls with Castro on Wednesday, said he is working everyday to improve on the double play.

"It's something I want to improve upon," said DeWitt, 25, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade that sent Ryan Theriot and Ted Lilly to Los Angeles on July 31. "I feel comfortable turning the double play. I've made a few strides this spring understanding some things mechanically that I didn't get before. That's why [Starlin] Castro and I have been working early on things, and it's all looking good."

DeWitt has also been working with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo this spring.

"[DeWitt has] trusted me by letting us eliminate the toe tap as part of his batting stance," Jaramillo said. "My commitment to him is to work as hard as we can in helping him develop his new approach to the ball."

Quade's concern for improved defense doesn't stop at second base. He is focused on Tyler Colvin's early defensive lapses in the outfield. Colvin has also taken on added responsibility as a backup first baseman this spring which is an automatic red flag.

"I spoke to him [Tuesday]," Quade said. "I almost challenged him. Look, we are asking him to spend some time at first. We are dividing up his time a little bit. It's only natural to think that's causing some of the problem."

Colvin has made three errors in the outfield this spring and misplayed a ball he should have caught that fell for a single on Tuesday.

"We are going to continue to look at him at first base, but we'll just make sure he gets all the work he can in the outfield," Quade said. "And then he can try to have his mind on the spot where he's at. I've been surprised [at the mistakes]."

Colvin is scheduled to play first base again on Thursday against the Cleveland Indians in Mesa.