Breaking News Bar
updated: 3/4/2011 6:30 AM

DeWitt, Baker an uncertain duo for Cubs at second base

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Blake DeWitt made the full-time switch from third base to second last year after not hitting for enough pop to play third.

      Blake DeWitt made the full-time switch from third base to second last year after not hitting for enough pop to play third.

  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.com  Last season, Jeff Baker had a hitting line of .350/.395/.550 against left-handed pitching compared with .106/.181/.121 vs. righties.

      Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.com Last season, Jeff Baker had a hitting line of .350/.395/.550 against left-handed pitching compared with .106/.181/.121 vs. righties.

  • Chicago Cubs second baseman Blake DeWitt, left, is forced to hang onto the ball as Oakland Athletics' Josh Willingham, right, slides to break up the double play during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz.

      Chicago Cubs second baseman Blake DeWitt, left, is forced to hang onto the ball as Oakland Athletics' Josh Willingham, right, slides to break up the double play during the third inning of a spring training baseball game Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz.

 
 

There's quite the cornucopia of second basemen in the National League.

In fact, the Braves have two of the best in Dan Uggla and Martin Prado, so they had to move Prado to the outfield.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

There are the usual suspects in Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips and Rickie Weeks cavorting about the NL. And there is the underrated, such as Arizona's Kelly Johnson. So where does that leave the Cubs?

In uncertain territory.

They began last year with Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker at second before moving Ryan Theriot from shortstop to second after the call-up of Starlin Castro. Then, they traded Theriot in a deal with the Dodgers that brought Blake DeWitt.

This year, DeWitt and Baker will form the platoon. Let's sort it out.

Will it be a straight platoon?

Probably. DeWitt bats left-handed while Baker hits right. Last season, Baker had a hitting line of .350/.395/.550 against left-handed pitching compared with .106/.181/.121 vs. righties.

Is this a pivotal year for DeWitt?

Both manager Mike Quade and DeWitt downplayed that outlook. DeWitt, 25, was a first-round pick of the Dodgers in 2004. He made the full-time switch from third base to second last year after not hitting for enough pop to play third.

"You prepare the best you can and concentrate on what's at hand," DeWitt said at spring training. "You can't worry about what this year means or what last year meant. You concentrate on what's at hand, and what's at hand right now us preparing to have a great season with this team and trying to make the playoffs."

DeWitt hit 5 homers last year, 4 with the Cubs.

Could either player lead off?

Both figure to be in the mix, along with right fielder Kosuke Fukudome when he plays. DeWitt's on-base percentage last year was .336 while Baker's overall OBP was .326, but he did well enough against left-handed pitching.

Both seem to welcome the opportunity and the challenge, which is what Quade called it for DeWitt.

"I love it," DeWitt said. "It doesn't matter to me where I hit in the lineup. Your concentration during the game is to get on base no matter what, no matter what position you're at in the lineup. I take the same approach.

"Obviously, it's going to be a little different in the leadoff spot. You're setting the tone of the game. It's something I could look forward to."

Who are the backups?

Quade has said the backup infielder must be able to play shortstop as well as second. Youngster Darwin Barney made a good impression last year, but the Cubs brought veteran Augie Ojeda in as a nonroster man to push Barney. Both Barney and Ojeda can play short.

Veteran Bobby Scales also is in camp as a nonroster man.

What's down on the farm?

The Cubs are still sorting out where such infielders as DJ LeMahieu and Ryan Flaherty will end up playing. Both have seen time at second base. There had been talk that Castro might move to second when Hak-Ju Lee was ready, but the Cubs traded Lee to Tampa Bay in the Matt Garza deal. They also traded Tony Thomas to Boston for reliever John Coello. Thomas was considered a midlevel prospect.

Share this page