Thursday, February 23, 2012
DeWitt not letting uncertain role get to him
By Doug Padilla
MESA, Ariz. -- Once Blake DeWitt hit the open road, his mind was free and he was ready to play baseball again.
The Cubs’ utility man from last season had what he called a "weird" month when he settled on a contract to avoid arbitration, was removed from the 40-man roster and then learned he could become a free agent if he desired.
Blake DeWitt batted .265 in 121 games with the Cubs last season.
Ultimately DeWitt decided to take the $1.1 million deal he received from the Cubs, but he doesn’t have a guaranteed spot on the Opening Day roster.
"It was one of those things that was all unknown to me," DeWitt said Thursday about the moves that left him on the outside looking in at the 40-man squad. "I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know all the rules. Maybe that's why I wasn't too worried about it, I guess. I don't know."
Since his goal was to always fight for a starting job when he arrived in camp, looking at things in that sense, nothing had really changed.
"No matter if you play 10 years in the league or are looking for your first taste in the big leagues, that's your goal going into spring training every year is to make the team. So nothing's changed. There's no added stress. There's no anxiety. It's go out and have fun."
There will be a lot of work to do, though. The reason he was moved off the 40-man was because the Cubs claimed infielder Adrian Cardenas off waivers from the Oakland A's. That means that DeWitt won't just have to battle Darwin Barney for the starting second base job, he'll have to beat out Cardenas as well.
"It’s one of those things that regardless you're coming in to win a job and that's the same approach I'm going to take," DeWitt said.
It was the solitude of his drive from his hometown in Missouri to the Arizona desert that helped him to clear his mind.
"It's a little bit of a drive. It was fun seeing parts of the country I never seen," he said. "I was looking out of the plane window the other times so getting to drive was a lot of fun."
As for his decision to return, there wasn’t really a whole lot to think about. By returning he gets his $1.1 million whether he is playing in the minor leagues or in Wrigley Field. It was probably going to be tough to make that from another club if he became a free agent.
But in no way is DeWitt considering the Cubs the team he is stuck with in order to make top dollar.
"I had a decision to make, and I am extremely happy being here today," he said. "Driving out here it was one of those things that I was ready to get back on the field and ready to get back playing. That was one of the things that was kind of weird about the situation. This time of the year you're ready to get back on the field and to not know where you're going to be it was kind of strange."
He knows where he will be now and that's reassuring.
"Chicago is a great city," he said. "You want to be a part of something here as a player. It's a special place, and I'm looking forward to being here again."