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Thursday, March 24, 2011
DeWitt 'not panicking' about demotion

By Bruce Levine

Chicago Cubs infielder Blake DeWitt understands he missed out on a golden opportunity to become the Cubs’ everyday second baseman.

Blake DeWitt
Blake DeWitt's poor spring cost him his starting spot.
On Thursday, Cubs manager Mike Quade flip-flopped DeWitt’s and infielder Darwin Barney’s roles on the team. DeWitt will now back up second and third base to start the season while Barney shares the second base job with Jeff Baker.

The 25-year-old Missouri native has reworked his hitting mechanics with team hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.

With that, DeWitt takes full responsibility for his failures on both offense and defense.

“That’s part of it,” DeWitt said when asked if his new hitting style impacted his performance. “It’s on me. I’ve struggled and there’s no other way to put it. But there’s no panic in me. I’m not worried about it. I’ve played [in the major leagues] before. I know what I’m capable of doing.”

Besides the offensive failures that DeWitt experience this spring, he also failed to prove to Quade the staff that he can handle the double play. In fact, to some observers it appeared he had regressed at the plate and in the field.

Why DeWitt struggled is a mystery to most observers – especially considering that Quade called him the hardest working player in camp.

DeWitt agrees that maybe, at some point, he works a little too hard.

“No doubt,” DeWitt said. “At times I’ve fought that. I’ve had years where I really fought that. You put in the work, but when you report on the field, you let the work go. You trust it. You say, I’ve done this before.”

A National League scout who knows DeWitt well, told ESPNChicago.com that DeWitt’s best position is the third base.

“He’s such a fine young man, you really root for him to do well,” the scout said. “His work ethic is really off the charts. But his footwork is more conducive to playing third base. Turning the double play is a challenge for him. Sometimes his feet just don’t get him there in time."

The consummate team player, DeWitt was very disappointed with the Cubs’ decision to make him a utility player again.

“Whatever helps the team,” DeWitt said after hearing of his demotion. “I’m willing to do whatever. I’ve always liked playing second base better, but this game’s about winning. That’s what we’re all here to do. I’m more than happy to go over [to third base] and give it a shot.”